Evaluating human milk as a drug delivery vehicle for clofazimine to premature infants

Ellie Ponsonby-Thomas, Malinda Salim, Laura D. Klein, Andrew J. Clulow, Susi Seibt, Ben J. Boyd

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Human milk is proposed as a drug delivery vehicle suitable for use in neonatal patients. Clofazimine, traditionally used for the treatment of leprosy and tuberculosis, is emerging as a treatment for cryptosporidiosis in infants, however its poor aqueous solubility has led to its commercial formulation as a waxy lipid formulation in a capsule, a format that is not suitable for infants. In this study, the evaluation of pasteurised human milk for the delivery of clofazimine was investigated using an in vitro lipolysis model to simulate gastric and intestinal digestion. The total lipid composition of the human milk was characterised alongside the liberated fatty acid species following digestion for comparison to alternative lipid-based delivery systems. Small-angle X-ray scattering was used to measure the presence of crystalline clofazimine during digestion and hence the extent of drug solubilisation. High-performance liquid chromatography was used to quantify the mass of clofazimine solubilised per gram of human milk fat (drug-to-fat ratio) in digested and undigested human milk. The digestion process was essential for the solubilisation of clofazimine, with digested human milk solubilising a sufficient dose of clofazimine for treatment of a premature infant. Human milk solubilised the clofazimine to a greater extent than bovine milk and infant formula during digestion, most likely as a result of differing lipid composition and increased long-chain fatty acid concentrations. These findings show that human milk enhances the solubility of clofazimine as a model drug and may be a suitable drug delivery vehicle for infant populations requiring therapeutic treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-267
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Controlled Release
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • Clofazimine
  • Drug solubilisation
  • Human milk
  • In vitro digestion
  • Infant
  • X-ray scattering

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