The world’s largest cyclodextrin producer, Wacker Chemie has recently published a press release on cyclodextrins and their role in the COVID.19 crisis.
The development of drugs is a painstaking process in which pharmaceutical companies are constantly confronted with all manner of hurdles. Many medicines do not dissolve readily in water, for instance. This hinders absorption of the active ingredient by the body, which cannot utilize the material and benefit from its effect. One option for increasing the solubility and thus bioavailability of an active is the use of engineered cyclodextrin derivatives. “These ring-shaped sugar molecules have a hydrophilic, i.e. water-loving, exterior and a lipophilic, i.e. fat-soluble, cavity in their interior,” explains Dr. Silke Dlugai-Esser, marketing manager in the pharma sector at WACKER. “This cavity can enclose other lipophilic molecules, such as pharmaceutical actives – as guests, so to speak.”
When used as an excipient, highly water soluble cyclodextrin derivatives can enhance the solubility of drugs that are otherwise not readily soluble, improving the bioavailability of the substance. “If you have an agent that is insoluble in water, for example, you can add cyclodextrins to create an oral or injectable formulation for treating patients,” Dlugai-Esser notes.
Engineered cyclodextrin derivatives can also be used as excipients with antiviral drugs, some of which are currently being evaluated for the potential to treat COVID-19. An example is the antiviral drug remdesivir developed by the biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences.
WACKER is the world’s largest producer of cyclodextrins and the only company to produce all three naturally occurring cyclodextrins, marketing them under the trade names CAVAMAX® W6 (α-cyclodextrin), W7 (β-cyclodextrin) and W8 (γ-cyclodextrin). Cyclodextrins from WACKER are manufactured at the company’s US site in Eddyville, Iowa, where enzymes are used for converting corn starch into the glucose rings. The cyclodextrin derivatives produced by modifying these α-, β- und γ-cyclodextrins by hydroxypropylation or methylation are marketed by WACKER under the name CAVASOL®.
The unique properties of cyclodextrins make them applicable in a wide variety of fields – not just as excipients in drugs. They are also used in the food, cosmetics and household goods industries, and new applications are being investigated all the time.