A new high-throughput method utilizing porous silica-based nano-composites for the determination of partition coefficients of drug candidates.
We show that highly porous silica-based nanoparticles prepared via micro-emulsion and sol-gel techniques are stable colloids in aqueous solution. By incorporating a magnetic core into the porous silica nano-composite, it is found that the material can be rapidly separated (precipitated) upon exposure to an external magnetic field. Alternatively, the porous silica nanoparticles without magnetic cores can be equally separated from solution by applying a high-speed centrifugation. Using these silica-based nanostructures a new high-throughput method for the determination of partition coefficient for water/n-octanol is hereby described. First, a tiny quantity of n-octanol phase is pre-absorbed in the porous silica nano-composite colloids, which allows an establishment of interface at nano-scale between the adsorbed n-octanol with the bulk aqueous phase. Organic compounds added to the mixture can therefore undergo a rapid partition between the two phases. The concentration of drug compound in the supernatant in a small vial can be determined by UV-visible absorption spectroscopy. With the adaptation of a robotic liquid handler, a high-throughput technology for the determination of partition coefficients of drug candidates can be employed for drug screening in the industry based on these nano-separation skills. The experimental results clearly suggest that this new method can provide partition coefficient values of potential drug candidates comparable to the conventional shake-flask method but requires much shorter analytical time and lesser quantity of chemicals. Copyright © 2011 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.