Thursday, January 7, 2010

Quality by Design: Dissolution Time

By Dr. Scott Rudge

In a previous post, I discussed the prevalence of statistics used in Quality by Design. These statistical tools are certainly useful and can provide (within their limits of error) prediction of future effects of excursions from control ranges for operating parameters, specifically for Critical Quality Attributes (CQA’s). The limitations of this approach were discussed in the previous blog. In the next series of blogs on Quality by Design, I will discuss opportunities for increasing quality, consistency and compliance for biotechnology products by building quality from the ground up.
While active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) manufacture by biosynthesis is a complicated and difficult to control prospect, there are a number of fundamental operations that are imminently controllable. Media and buffers must be compounded, sometimes adjusted or supplemented, stored and ultimately used in reactors and separators to produce and purify the API. These solutions are fairly easy to make with precision. Three factors come immediately to mind that can be known in a fashion that is scale independent and rigorous, 1) the dissolution rate, 2) the mixing power required and 3) the chemical stability of the solution.

The dissolution rate is a matter of mass transfer from a saturated solution at the dissolving solid interface to the bulk solution concentration. If particle size is fairly consistent, then the dissolution rate is represented by this equation:

where k is the mass transfer coefficient, provided the dissolving solid is fully suspended. It is easy to measure this mass transfer rate in the laboratory with an appropriate measure of solution concentration. For example, for the dissolution of sodium chloride, conductivity can be used. We conducted such experiments in our lab across a range of volumes salt concentrations, and found a scale independent mass transfer coefficient of approximately 0.4 s-1. An example of the results is shown in the accompanying figure.

With the mass transfer coefficient in hand, the mixing time can be precisely specified, and an appropriately short additional engineering safety factor added. If the times are known for dissolution, and mixing is scaled appropriately (as will be shown in future blogs) then buffers and other solutions can be made with high precision and little wasted labor or material. In addition, the properties of the solutions should be constant within a narrow range, and the reproducibility of more complicated unit operations such as reactors and separators, much improved.

A design based on engineering standards such as this produces predictable results.  Predictable results are the basis of process validation.  As the boiling point of water drives the design of the WFI still, we should let engineering design equations drive Quality by Design for process unit operations.

Leah Choi contributed to this work

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