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Using droplet-based microfluidic technology to study the precipitation of a poorly water-soluble weakly basic drug upon a pH-shift

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


  • Francine Edwards
  • Christina Tsakmaka
  • Stephan Mohr
  • Peter R. Fielden
  • Nick J. Goddard
  • Jonathan Booth
  • Kin Y. Tam
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2013
Issue number1
Number of pages7
Pages (from-to)339-345
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The purpose of this study is to develop a droplet-based microfluidic device capable of monitoring drug precipitation upon a shift from gastric pH (pH 1.5) to intestinal pH (pH 6.5-7.0). The extent of precipitation occurring in droplets over time was measured using a novel on-chip laser scattering technique specifically developed for this study. The precipitation of ketoconazole, a poorly water-soluble basic drug, was investigated under different concentrations and pH values. It has been shown that the drug precipitates rapidly under supersaturation. Two water-soluble aqueous polymers, namely, polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) and hydroxypropylmethylcellulose (HPMC) have been evaluated as precipitation inhibitors. HPMC was shown to be the most potent precipitation inhibitor. It is envisaged that the microfluidic pH-shift method developed in this study would form a proof-of-concept study, towards the development of a high throughput method for screening pharmaceutical excipients/precipitation inhibitors.