Spray drying: Inhalable powders for pulmonary gene therapy

M. Munir, L. Jena, V. L. Kett, N. J. Dunne, H. O. McCarthy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Gene therapy holds potential in the treatment of many lung pathologies, as indicated by the growing number of clinical trials in recent decades. Pulmonary delivery of gene therapies via inhalation enables localised treatment while the extensive lung surface area promotes enhanced drug absorption. However, loss of nucleic acid integrity during the aerosolisation process, pulmonary clearance, and undesirable drug deposition, pose a major challenge for local delivery. Therefore, the development of nucleic acids into a stable inhalable pharmaceutical preparation would be advantageous. Dry powder inhalers (DPIs) are considered superior compared to nebulisation and pressurised-metered dose inhalers (pMDIs) due to the production of a stable dry formulation, an easy dispensing process, and minimal physical stress. DPIs are commonly produced via spray drying with a range of excipients, solvents, and separation options which can be modified to improve the stability of the nucleic acid cargo. This review details the ideal characteristics for pulmonary delivery and formulation of DPIs for gene therapy to the lungs. The utilisation of spray drying for the production of nucleic acid-containing DPIs is evaluated, with a specific focus on the influence of instrument parameters, the nucleic acid delivery system, and excipients with respect to cargo stability and functionality.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112601
JournalMaterials Science and Engineering C
Early online date09 Dec 2021
Publication statusEarly online date - 09 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the Indonesian Endowment Fund for Education (Lembaga Pengelola Dana Pendidikan/LPDP) scholarship.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021


  • Dry powder inhaler
  • Gene therapy
  • Pulmonary delivery
  • Spray drying

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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