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  • Three-dimensional (3D) printing serves as an alternative method for fabricating microneedle (MN) patches with a high object resolution. In this investigation, four distinct needle shapes: pyramid mounted over a long cube (shape A), cone mounted over a cylinder (shape B), pyramidal shape (shape C), and conical shape (shape D) were designed using computer-aided design (CAD) software with compensated bases of 350, 450 and 550 µm. Polylactic acid (PLA) biophotopolymer resin from eSun and stereolithography (SLA) 3D printer from Anycubic technology were used to print MN patches. The 3D-printed MN patches were employed to construct MN molds, and those molds were used to produce hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC) and polyvinyl pyrrolidone (PVP) K90 dissolving microneedles (DMNs). Various printing parameters, such as curing time, printing angle, and anti-aliasing (AA), were varied to evaluate suitable printing conditions for each shape. Furthermore, physical appearance, mechanical property, and skin insertion ability of HPMC/PVP K90 DMNs were examined. The results showed that for shape A and C, the suitable curing time and printing angle were 1.5 s and 30° while for shapes B and D, they were 2.0 s and 45°, respectively. All four shapes required AA to eliminate their stair-stepped edges. Additionally, it was demonstrated that all twelve designs of 3D-printed MN patches could be employed for fabricating MN molds. HPMC/PVP K90 DMNs with the needles of shape A and B exhibited better physicochemical properties compared to those of shape C and D. Particularly, both sample 9 and 10 displayed sharp needle without bent tips, coupled with minimal height reduction (< 10%) and a high percentage of blue dots (approximately 100%). As a result, 3D printing can be utilized to custom construct 3D-printed MN patches for producing MN molds, and HPMC/PVP K90 DMNs manufactured by those molds showed excellent physicochemical properties.

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  • Nano zero-valent iron (nZVI) is widely used in soil remediation due to its high reactivity. However, the easy agglomeration, poor antioxidant ability and passivation layer of Fe-Cr coprecipitates of nZVI have limited its application scale in Cr-contaminated soil remediation, especially in high concentration of Cr-contaminated soil. Herein, we found that the carboxymethyl cellulose on nZVI particles could increase the zeta potential value of soil and change the phase of nZVI. Along with the presence of biochar, 97.0% and 96.6% Cr immobilization efficiency through CMC-nZVI/BC were respectively achieved in high and low concentrations of Cr-contaminated soils after 90-days remediation. In addition, the immobilization efficiency of Cr(VI) only decreased by 5.1% through CMC-nZVI/BC treatment after 10 weeks aging in air, attributing to the strong antioxidation ability. As for the surrounding Cr-contaminated groundwater, the Cr(VI) removal capacity of CMC-nZVI/BC was evaluated under different reaction conditions through column experiments and COMSOL Multiphysics. CMC-nZVI/BC could efficiently remove 85% of Cr(VI) in about 400 hr when the initial Cr(VI) concentration was 40 mg/L and the flow rate was 0.5 mL/min. This study demonstrates that uniformly dispersed CMC-nZVI/BC has an excellent remediation effect on different concentrations of Cr-contaminated soils.

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  • Microparticles as a multicompartment drug delivery system are beneficial for poorly soluble drugs. Mucoadhesive polymers applied in microparticle technology prolong the contact of the drug with the mucosa surface enhancing drug bioavailability and extending drug activity. Sodium alginate (ALG) and hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (hypromellose, HPMC) are polymers of a natural or semi-synthetic origin, respectively. They are characterized by mucoadhesive properties and are applied in microparticle technology. Spray drying is a technology employed in microparticle preparation, consisting of the atomization of liquid in a stream of gas. In this study, the pharmaceutical properties of spray-dried ALG/HPMC microparticles with posaconazole were compared with the properties of physical mixtures of powders with equal qualitative and quantitative compositions. Posaconazole (POS) as a relatively novel antifungal was utilized as a model poorly water-soluble drug, and hard gelatin capsules were applied as a reservoir for designed formulations. A release study in 0.1 M HCl showed significantly prolonged POS release from microparticles compared to a mixture of powders. Such a relationship was not followed in simulated vaginal fluid (SVF). Microparticles were also characterized by stronger mucoadhesive properties, an increased swelling ratio, and prolonged residence time compared to physical mixtures of powders. The obtained results indicated that the pharmaceutical properties of hard gelatin capsules filled with microparticles were significantly different from hard gelatin capsules with mixtures of powders.

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  • The progressive decline of the coal industry necessitates the development of effective treatment solutions for acid mine drainage (AMD), which is characterized by high acidity and elevated concentrations of heavy metals. This study proposes an innovative approach leveraging sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) acclimated to contaminated anaerobic environments. The research focused on elucidating the physiological characteristics and optimal growth conditions of SRB, particularly in relation to the pH level and temperature. The experimental findings reveal that the SRB exhibited a sulfate removal rate of 88.86% at an optimal temperature of 30 °C. Additionally, SRB gel particles were formulated using sodium alginate (SA) and carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC), and their performance was assessed under specific conditions (pH = 6, C/S = 1.5, T = 30 °C, CMC = 4.5%, BSNa = 0.4 mol/L, and cross-linking time = 9 h). Under these conditions, the SRB gel particles demonstrated an enhanced sulfate removal efficiency of 91.6%. Thermal analysis via differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) provided further insights into the stability and properties of the SRB gel spheres. The findings underscore the potential of SRB-based bioremediation as a sustainable and efficient method for AMD treatment, offering a novel and environmentally friendly solution to mitigating the adverse effects of environmental contamination.

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  • Freezing affects texture and induces the loss of gel quality. This study investigated the effects of methylcellulose (MC) (0.2%, 0.4%, 0.6%) and sodium hexametaphosphate (SHMP) (0.15%, 0.3%) on the gel textural and structural properties of SPI gels before and after freezing, and explores the synergistic enhancement of gel texture and the underlying mechanisms resulting from the simultaneous addition of SHMP and MC to SPI gels. It was revealed that MC improved the strength of SPI gels through its thickening properties, but it could not inhibit the reduction of SPI gels after freezing. The 0.4% MC-SPI gel exhibited the best gel strength (193.2 ± 2.4 g). SHMP inhibited gel reduction during freezing through hydrogen bonding and ionic interactions; it enhanced the freezing stability of SPI gels. The addition of 0.15% SHMP made the water-holding capacity in SPI gels reach the highest score after freezing (58.2 ± 0.32%). The synergistic effect of MC and SHMP could improve the strength and the freezing stability of SPI gels. MC facilitated the release of ionizable groups within SPI, causing negatively charged SHMP groups to aggregate on the SPI and inhibit the freezing aggregation of proteins. These results provide a strong basis for the improvement of cryogenic soy protein gel performance by SHMP and MC.

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  • Controlled-release tablets offer several benefits, such as controlled release, odor masking, ease of use, stability, extended shelf life, and reduced production costs. This study developed combined curcumin controlled-release tablets (CCCTs) to increase the bioavailability of curcumin with hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC), chitosan, and sodium alginate. The hardness of the CCCTs was 5.63-1.98 kgf, friability was 0.00-1.22%, and disintegration time was 0.00-401.25 min. Differential scanning calorimetry and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy indicated a high compatibility between the excipients and curcumin. CCCTs with chitosan formed a gel structure, impeded disintegration, and reduced the release rate to 72.5% in simulated gastric fluid. In simulated intestinal fluid, CCCT with the HPMC-sodium alginate group formed a polyelectrolyte membrane hydrogel to prolong release from 6 to 12 h. This study developed various CCCT formulations that can be delivered through the gastric or intestinal tracts, using chitosan and HPMC-sodium alginate as excipients, respectively. CCCT can be used as a reference strategy for controlled-release curcumin delivery in the functional and healthcare supplement development.

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  • Since the local treatment of oral candidiasis usually requires long-term administration of the antifungal drug, an ideal dosage form should be able to maintain the drug release over an extended period, assuring an adequate concentration at the infection site. In this context, we have considered the possibility of a buccal delivery of miconazole nitrate (MN) by mucoadhesive polymeric matrices. The loading of the antifungal drug in a hydrophilic matrix was made possible by taking advantage of the amphiphilic nature of liposomes (LP). The MN-loaded LP were prepared by a thin film evaporation method followed by extrusion, while solid matrices were obtained by freeze-drying a suspension of the LP in a polymeric solution based on chitosan (CH), sodium hyaluronate (HYA), or hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC). MN-loaded LP measured 284.7 ± 20.1 nm with homogeneous size distribution, adequate drug encapsulation efficiency (86.0 ± 3.3 %) and positive zeta potential (+47.4 ± 3.3). CH and HYA-based formulations almost completely inhibited C. albicans growth after 24 h, even if the HYA-based one released a higher amount of the drug. The CH-based matrix also provided the best mucoadhesive capacity and therefore represents the most promising candidate for the local treatment of oral candidiasis.

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  • Four-dimensional (4D) printing of hydrogels enabled the fabrication of complex scaffold geometries out of static parts. Although current 4D fabrication strategies are promising for creating vascular parts such as tubes, developing branched networks or tubular junctions is still challenging. Here, for the first time, a 4D printing approach is employed to fabricate T-shaped perfusable bifurcation using an extrusion-based multi-material 3D printing process. An alginate/methylcellulose-based dual-component hydrogel system (with defined swelling behavior) is nanoengineered with carbonized alginate (∼100 nm) to introduce anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, and anti-thrombotic properties and shape-shifting properties. A computational model to predict shape deformations in the printed hydrogels with defined infill angles was designed and further validated experimentally. Shape deformations of the 3D-printed flat sheets were achieved by ionic cross-linking. An undisrupted perfusion of a dye solution through a T-junction with minimal leakage mimicking blood flow through vessels is also demonstrated. Moreover, human umbilical vein endothelial and fibroblast cells seeded with printed constructs show intact morphology and excellent cell viability. Overall, the developed strategy paves the way for manufacturing self-actuated vascular bifurcations with remarkable anti-thrombotic properties to potentially treat coronary artery diseases.

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  • The conventional treatment of osteomyelitis with antibiotic-loaded nondegradable polymethylmethacrylate (ATB-PMMA) beads has certain limitations, including impeded bone reconstruction and the need for secondary surgery. To overcome this challenge, this study aimed to develop and characterize an injectable vancomycin-loaded silk fibroin/methylcellulose containing calcium phosphate-based in situ thermosensitive hydrogel (VC-SF/MC-CAPs). The VC-SF/MC-CAPs solution can be easily administered at room temperature with a low injectability force of ≤30 N and a high vancomycin (VC) content of ~96%. Additionally, at physiological temperature (37 °C), the solution could transform into a rigid hydrogel within 7 minutes. In vitro drug release performed under both physiological (pH 7.4) and infection conditions (pH 4.5) revealed a prolonged release pattern of VC-SF/MC-CAPs following the Peppas-Sahlin kinetic model. In addition, the released VC from VC-SF/MC-CAPs hydrogels exhibited antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus for a period exceeding 35 days, as characterized by the disk diffusion assay. Furthermore, at pH 7.4, the VC-SF/MC-CAPs demonstrated >60% degradation within 35 days. Importantly, when exposed to physiological pH conditions, CAPs are transformed into bioactive hydroxyapatite, which benefits bone formation. Therefore, VC-SF/MC-CAPs showed significant potential as a local drug delivery system for treating osteomyelitis.

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  • Due to their potential adverse health effects, some N-nitrosamines in drug products are strictly regulated with very low maximum daily intake limits. Nitrosamines can be formed from the reaction of nitrite and secondary or tertiary amines when both species co-exist in the drug synthesis or formulation process. One key strategy to mitigate nitrosamine risk in drugs is to select low-nitrite containing pharma excipients for formulation. It is necessary to develop a sensitive method for trace nitrite determination in pharma excipients as it enables drug producers to study nitrosamine formation kinetics and select excipient suppliers. This study details the development and validation of a two-dimensional ion chromatography mass spectrometry (2D-IC/MS) method for trace nitrite determination in hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC), one of the most important pharmaceutical excipients used in many drug formulations. The 2D-IC system was operated in heart-cutting mode with a concentrator column coupling the two dimensions. A standard bore anion-exchange column was used in the first dimension (D) to enable a large volume injection for increased sensitivity and provide improved resolution between nitrite and the interfering chloride peak. A high efficiency microbore anion-exchange column with different selectivity was used in the second dimension (D) to resolve nitrite from other interfering species. The use of 2D-IC resulted in significantly improved resolution, solving the sensitivity loss issue due to ion suppression from an otherwise 1D separation. MS detection with selective ion monitoring and isotope labeled nitrite internal standard further improve the method specificity, accuracy, and ruggedness, as compared with conductivity detection. For trace determination, it is also extremely important to have a clean blank. For this purpose, a novel cleaning procedure using a strong anion wash was developed to remove nitrite contamination from labware. The optimized method was validated with linearity of nitrite in the concentration range of 18.5-5005.8 ng/g having a regression coefficient of >0.9999, precision with RSD at 3.5-10.1 % and recovery of 90.5-102.4 %. The limit of detection and limit of quantitation were 8.9 and 29.6 ng/g relative to the HPMC sample, or equivalent to 89 and 296 pg/g in the sample solution, respectively.

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