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REVIEW: Deterioration of Lyophilized Pharmaceutical Proteins

H. R. Costantino1,2, S. P. Schwendeman1,3, R. Langer1, and A. M. Klibanov4*

1 Department of Chemical Engineering and 4 Department of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA; fax: 617-252-1609; E-mail: klibanov@mit.edu

2 Current address: Pharmaceutical Research and Development, Genentech, Inc., 460 Pt. San Bruno Blvd., South San Francisco, CA 94080, USA

3 Current address: Division of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, College of Pharmacy, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received July 7, 1997
The successful use of proteins in pharmaceutical and other commercial applications requires close examination of their relative fragility. Because of the resultant enhanced stability, proteins are often formulated in the solid state, even though dehydration tends to alter their structure. Even in the solid form, however, proteins may become inactivated due to various deleterious processes, e.g., aggregation. This review focuses on such mechanisms, with an emphasis on case studies conducted in our laboratory. Proteins which have both disulfide bonds and free thiols may aggregate via thiol-disulfide exchange, and this process may be facilitated by lyophilization-induced structural perturbations. For proteins possessing disulfides but not free thiols, aggregation also may occur when native disulfides are beta-eliminated, thus giving rise to thiol species which can catalyze disulfide scrambling. Other deleterious processes have also been uncovered, including a formaldehyde-mediated aggregation of formalinized vaccines. It is illustrated how knowledge of such deterioration pathways makes possible the rational development of stable solid protein formulations.
KEY WORDS: lyophilized pharmaceutical proteins, stability