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MUCO-DIS: a new AFM-based nanoscale dissolution technique.

Ghori, Muhammad Usman; Nirwan, Jorabar Singh; Asim, Taimoor; Chahid, Younes; Farhaj, Samia; Khizer, Zara; Timmins, Peter; Conway, Barbara R.


Muhammad Usman Ghori

Jorabar Singh Nirwan

Younes Chahid

Samia Farhaj

Zara Khizer

Peter Timmins

Barbara R. Conway


Mucoadhesion-based drug delivery systems have recently gained interest because of their bio-adhesion capability, which results in enhanced residence time leading to prolonged duration of action with the mucosal surface, potentially improving compliance and convenience. Mucoadhesion testing of these formulations is widely reported; however, this is technically challenging due to the absence of any standard methods and difficulty in conducting mucoadhesion, formulation-mucosal surface interaction, mucosal surface topography and drug release in a single experiment. As these measurements are currently conducted separately, on replicate formulations, results can often be subjective and difficult to correlate. Hence, the aim of the present study was to develop a new AFM-based single-entity ex vivo muco-dissolution (MUCO-DIS) technique to simultaneously evaluate mucoadhesion force, 3D surface topography, polymer dissolution and drug release characteristics. To demonstrate the potential of the current technique, the interactions between model pectin microparticles containing metformin HCl and a range of gastrointestinal mucosal surfaces (gastric, small intestine, large intestine and buccal) were studied. This novel system has not only successfully determined the mucoadhesion force, polymer dissolution and drug release information but has also highlighted the difference in microparticle performance with different mucosal targets. The current work has highlighted the potential of this newly developed MUCO-DIS system and we believe this will be a valuable tool for characterising these popular pharmaceutical formulations. This technique could also provide an opportunity to other scientific fields to evaluate materials, substrate behaviour and their interactions in their hydrated state at nanoscale with real-time chemical and surface mapping.


GHORI, M.U., NIRWAN, J.S., ASIM, T., CHAHID, Y., FARHAJ, S., KHIZER, Z., TIMMINS, P. and CONWAY, B.R. 2020. MUCO-DIS: a new AFM-based nanoscale dissolution technique. AAPS PharmSciTech [online], 21(5), article ID 142. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 27, 2020
Online Publication Date May 17, 2020
Publication Date Jul 31, 2020
Deposit Date May 13, 2020
Publicly Available Date May 13, 2020
Journal AAPS PharmSciTech
Electronic ISSN 1530-9932
Publisher American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 21
Issue 5
Article Number 142
Keywords Muco-adhesion; Nanodissolution; Adhesion force; Surface texture; Surface roughness; Gastrointestinal mucosa; Atomic force microscopy (AFM); Matrix erosion; Drug release; Ex vivo; Nanoscale; 3D printing
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