Computational prediction of formulation strategies for beyond-rule-of-5 compounds

Publication: Adv Drug Deliv Rev


The physicochemical properties of some contemporary drug candidates are moving towards higher molecular weight, and coincidentally also higher lipophilicity in the quest for biological selectivity and specificity. These physicochemical properties move the compounds towards beyond rule-of-5 (B-r-o-5) chemical space and often result in lower water solubility. For such B-r-o-5 compounds non-traditional delivery strategies (i.e. those other than conventional tablet and capsule formulations) typically are required to achieve adequate exposure after oral administration. In this review, we present the current status of computational tools for prediction of intestinal drug absorption, models for prediction of the most suitable formulation strategies for B-r-o-5 compounds and models to obtain an enhanced understanding of the interplay between drug, formulation and physiological environment. In silico models are able to identify the likely molecular basis for low solubility in physiologically relevant fluids such as gastric and intestinal fluids. With this baseline information, a formulation scientist can, at an early stage, evaluate different orally administered, enabling formulation strategies. Recent computational models have emerged that predict glass-forming ability and crystallisation tendency and therefore the potential utility of amorphous solid dispersion formulations. Further, computational models of loading capacity in lipids, and therefore the potential for formulation as a lipid-based formulation, are now available. Whilst such tools are useful for rapid identification of suitable formulation strategies, they do not reveal drug localisation and molecular interaction patterns between drug and excipients. For the latter, Molecular Dynamics simulations provide an insight into the interplay between drug, formulation and intestinal fluid. These different computational approaches are reviewed. Additionally, we analyse the molecular requirements of different targets, since these can provide an early signal that enabling formulation strategies will be required. Based on the analysis we conclude that computational biopharmaceutical profiling can be used to identify where non-conventional gateways, such as prediction of ‘formulate-ability’ during lead optimisation and early development stages, are important and may ultimately increase the number of orally tractable contemporary targets.