A step forward towards the development of stable freeze-dried liposomes: a quality by design approach (QbD)

<p>This study highlights the advantages of using a Quality by Design (QbD) approach in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the freeze-drying process of pravastatin-loaded long-circulating liposomes (LCL-PRAV). Within the QbD paradigm, the present study aimed to establish the design space for the optimization of freeze-dried LCL-PRAV by means of Design of Experiment (DOE). The encapsulated solute retention (ESR), the average particle size, and zeta potential after freeze-drying, the residual moisture content, the macroscopic cake appearance, the glass transition temperature (<i>T</i><sub>g</sub>) of the freeze-dried cake, and the primary drying time were defined as critical quality attributes (CQAs) for the freeze-dried final product. Further on, the influence of lyoprotectant type, freezing rate, shelf temperature during primary drying, and the presence of an annealing step on the CQAs was investigated through a 21-run D-optimal experimental design. Three-dimensional response surfaces were generated to complete the statistical analysis and for a better understanding of the influence of variables and their interactions on the responses. The developed model was then used to build the design space for the freeze-dried liposomes, within which the product quality was assured and the process variability was minimized.</p>