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  1. Rehman K, Zulfakar MH
    Pharm. Res., 2017 01;34(1):36-48.
    PMID: 27620176 DOI: 10.1007/s11095-016-2036-8
    PURPOSE: To characterize bigel system as a topical drug delivery vehicle and to establish the immunomodulatory role of imiquimod-fish oil combination against skin cancer and inflammation resulting from chemical carcinogenesis.

    METHODS: Imiquimod-loaded fish oil bigel colloidal system was prepared using a blend of carbopol hydrogel and fish oil oleogel. Bigels were first characterized for their mechanical properties and compared to conventional gel systems. Ex vivo permeation studies were performed on murine skin to analyze the ability of the bigels to transport drug across skin and to predict the release mechanism via mathematical modelling. Furthermore, to analyze pharmacological effectiveness in skin cancer and controlling imiquimod-induced inflammatory side effects, imiquimod-fish oil combination was tested in vitro on epidermoid carcinoma cells and in vivo in Swiss albino mice cancer model.

    RESULTS: Imiquimod-loaded fish oil bigels exhibited higher drug availability inside the skin as compared to individual imiquimod hydrogel and oleogel controls through quasi-Fickian diffusion mechanism. Imiquimod-fish oil combination in bigel enhanced the antitumor effects and significantly reduced serum pro-inflammatory cytokine levels such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha and interleukin-6, and reducing tumor progression via inhibition of vascular endothelial growth factor. Imiquimod-fish oil combination also resulted in increased expression of interleukin-10, an anti-inflammatory cytokine, which could also aid anti-tumor activity against skin cancer.

    CONCLUSION: Imiquimod administration through a bigel vehicle along with fish oil could be beneficial for controlling imiquimod-induced inflammatory side effects and in the treatment of skin cancer.

  2. Rehman K, Zulfakar MH
    Drug Dev Ind Pharm, 2014 Apr;40(4):433-40.
    PMID: 23937582 DOI: 10.3109/03639045.2013.828219
    Transdermal drug delivery systems are a constant source of interest because of the benefits that they afford in overcoming many drawbacks associated with other modes of drug delivery (i.e. oral, intravenous). Because of the impermeable nature of the skin, designing a suitable drug delivery vehicle that penetrates the skin barrier is challenging. Gels are semisolid formulations, which have an external solvent phase, may be hydrophobic or hydrophilic in nature, and are immobilized within the spaces of a three-dimensional network structure. Gels have a broad range of applications in food, cosmetics, biotechnology, pharmatechnology, etc. Typically, gels can be distinguished according to the nature of the liquid phase, for example, organogels (oleogels) contain an organic solvent, and hydrogels contain water. Recent studies have reported other types of gels for dermal drug application, such as proniosomal gels, emulgels, bigels and aerogels. This review aims to introduce the latest trends in transdermal drug delivery via traditional hydrogels and organogels and to provide insight into the latest gel types (proniosomal gels, emulgels, bigels and aerogels) as well as recent technologies for topical and transdermal drug delivery.
  3. Rehman K, Tan CM, Zulfakar MH
    Drug Res (Stuttg), 2014 Mar;64(3):159-65.
    PMID: 24026957 DOI: 10.1055/s-0033-1355351
    Topical keratolytic agents such as benzoyl peroxide (BP) and salicylic acid (SA) are one of the common treatments for inflammatory skin diseases. However, the amount of drug delivery through the skin is limited due to the stratum corneum. The purposes of this study were to investigate the ability of fish oil to act as penetration enhancer for topical keratolytic agents and to determine the suitable gelator for formulating stable fish oil oleogels. 2 types of gelling agents, beeswax and sorbitan monostearate (Span 60), were used to formulate oleogels. To investigate the efficacy of fish oil oleogel permeation, commercial hydrogels of benzoyl peroxide (BP) and salicylic acid (SA) were used as control, and comparative analysis was performed using Franz diffusion cell. Stability of oleogels was determined by physical assessments at 20°C and 40°C storage. Benzoyl peroxide (BP) fish oil oleogels containing beeswax were considered as better formulations in terms of drug permeation and cumulative drug release. All the results were found to be statistically significant (p<0.05, ANOVA) and it was concluded that the beeswax-fish oil combination in oleogel can prove to be beneficial in terms of permeation across the skin and stability.
  4. Rehman K, Amin MC, Muda S
    Drug Res (Stuttg), 2013 Dec;63(12):657-62.
    PMID: 23842943 DOI: 10.1055/s-0033-1349129
    The increase in diseases of the colon underscores the need to develop cost-effective site-directed therapies. We formulated a polysaccharide-based matrix system that could release ibuprofen under conditions simulating those in the colon by employing a wet granulation method. Tablets were prepared in a series of formulations containing a polysaccharide (beta-cyclodextrin and chitosan) matrix system along with ethylcellulose. We characterized physicochemical properties and performed an in vitro drug release assay in the absence and presence of digestive enzymes to assess the ability of the polysaccharides to function as a protective barrier against the upper gastrointestinal environment. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy studies revealed no chemical interaction between ibuprofen and polysaccharides; however, spectrum analysis suggested the formation of an inclusion complex of beta-cyclodextrin with ibuprofen. The formulations contained 50% ethylcellulose and 50% beta-cyclodextrins (1:1) were proven to be the better formulation that slowly released the drug until 24 h (101.04 ± 0.65% maximum drug release in which 83.08 ± 0.89% drug was released in colonic medium) showed better drug release profiles than the formulations containing chitosan. We conclude that a beta-cyclodextrin drug carrier system may represent an effective approach for treatment of diseases of the colon.
  5. Rehman K, Mohd Amin MC, Zulfakar MH
    J Oleo Sci, 2014;63(10):961-70.
    PMID: 25252741
    Polymer-Fish oil bigel (hydrogel/oleogel colloidal mixture) was developed by using fish oil and natural (sodium alginate) and synthetic (hydroxypropyl methylcellulose) polymer for pharmaceutical purposes. The bigels were closely monitored and thermal, rheological and mechanical properties were compared with the conventional hydrogels for their potential use as an effective transdermal drug delivery vehicle. Stability of the fish oil fatty acids (especially eicosapentanoic acid, EPA and docosahexanoic acid, DHA) was determined by gas chromatography and the drug content (imiquimod) was assessed with liquid chromatography. Furthermore, in vitro permeation study was conducted to determine the capability of the fish oil-bigels as transdermal drug delivery vehicle. The bigels showed pseudoplastic rheological features, with excellent mechanical properties (adhesiveness, peak stress and hardness), which indicated their excellent spreadability for application on the skin. Bigels prepared with mixture of sodium alginate and fish oil (SB1 and SB2), and the bigels prepared with the mixture of hydroxypropyl methylcellulose and fish oil (HB1-HB3) showed high cumulative permeation and drug flux compared to hydrogels. Addition of fish oil proved to be beneficial in increasing the drug permeation and the results were statistically significant (p < 0.05, one-way Anova, SPSS 20.0). Thus, it can be concluded that bigel formulations could be used as an effective topical and transdermal drug delivery vehicle for pharmaceutical purposes.
  6. Rehman K, Mohd Amin MC, Yuen NP, Zulfakar MH
    J Oleo Sci, 2016 Mar 1;65(3):217-24.
    PMID: 26876681 DOI: 10.5650/jos.ess15256
    Fish oil is composed of various fatty acids among which omega-3 fatty acids are considered as most beneficial. The effects of fish oil on the activity of a topical anticancer drug, imiquimod, and the immunomodulatory activity of omega-3 fatty acids was investigated in human basal and squamous cell carcinoma cell lines. Imiquimod-fish oil mixture exhibited higher carcinoma cell growth inhibition and immunomodulatory activity than imiquimod alone, especially against squamous cell carcinoma cells. Omega-3 fatty acids exhibited growth inhibition of both basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma cell lines and modulated the immune response. Omega-3 fatty acids of fish oil serve as inducers of interleukin-10, an anti-inflammatory cytokine, and as suppressors of interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha, which not only depress tumor growth but also adequately control the inflammatory side effects of imiquimod. Thus, imiquimod administration with fish oil could be beneficial for inhibition of non-melanoma skin carcinoma cells but further in vivo studies are needed to understand their role in skin cancer.
  7. Tou KAS, Rehman K, Ishak WMW, Zulfakar MH
    Drug Dev Ind Pharm, 2019 Sep;45(9):1451-1458.
    PMID: 31216907 DOI: 10.1080/03639045.2019.1628042
    Objective: The aim of this study was to develop a coenzyme Q10 nanoemulsion cream, characterize and to determine the influence of omega fatty acids on the delivery of coenzyme Q10 across model skin membrane via ex vivo and in silico techniques. Methods: Coenzyme Q10 nanoemulsion creams were prepared using natural edible oils such as linseed, evening primrose, and olive oil. Their mechanical features and ability to deliver CoQ10 across rat skin were characterized. Computational docking analysis was performed for in silico evaluation of CoQ10 and omega fatty acid interactions. Results: Linseed, evening primrose, and olive oils each produced nano-sized emulsion creams (343.93-409.86 nm) and exhibited excellent rheological features. The computerized docking studies showed favorable interactions between CoQ10 and omega fatty acids that could improve skin permeation. The three edible-oil nanoemulsion creams displayed higher ex vivo skin permeation and drug flux compared to the liquid-paraffin control cream. The linseed oil formulation displayed the highest skin permeation (3.97 ± 0.91 mg/cm2) and drug flux (0.19 ± 0.05 mg/cm2/h). Conclusion: CoQ10 loaded-linseed oil nanoemulsion cream displayed the highest skin permeation. The highest permeation showed by linseed oil nanoemulsion cream may be due to the presence of omega-3, -6, and -9 fatty acids which might serve as permeation enhancers. This indicated that the edible oil nanoemulsion creams have potential as drug vehicles that enhance CoQ10 delivery across skin.
  8. Zulfakar MH, Chan LM, Rehman K, Wai LK, Heard CM
    AAPS PharmSciTech, 2018 Apr;19(3):1116-1123.
    PMID: 29181705 DOI: 10.1208/s12249-017-0923-x
    Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a vitamin-like oil-soluble molecule that has anti-oxidant and anti-ageing effects. To determine the most optimal CoQ10 delivery vehicle, CoQ10 was solubilised in both water and fish oil, and formulated into hydrogel, oleogel and bigel. Permeability of CoQ10 from each formulation across porcine ear skin was then evaluated. Furthermore, the effects of the omega-3 fatty eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) acids from fish oil on skin permeation were investigated by means of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and computerised molecular modelling docking experiments. The highest drug permeation was achieved with the bigel formulation that proved to be the most effective vehicle in delivering CoQ10 across the skin membrane due to a combination of its adhesive, viscous and lipophilic properties. Furthermore, the interactions between CoQ10 and fatty acids revealed by NMR and molecular modelling experiments likely accounted for skin permeability of CoQ10. NMR data showed dose-dependent changes in proton chemical shifts in EPA and DHA. Molecular modelling revealed complex formation and large binding energies between fatty acids and CoQ10. This study advances the knowledge about bigels as drug delivery vehicles and highlights the use of NMR and molecular docking studies for the prediction of the influence of drug-excipient relationships at the molecular level.
  9. Rehman K, Aluwi MF, Rullah K, Wai LK, Mohd Amin MC, Zulfakar MH
    Int J Pharm, 2015 Jul 25;490(1-2):131-41.
    PMID: 26003416 DOI: 10.1016/j.ijpharm.2015.05.045
    Imiquimod is a chemotherapeutic agent for many skin-associated diseases, but it has also been associated with inflammatory side effects. The aim of this study was to prevent the inflammatory effect of commercial imiquimod (Aldara(®)) by controlled release of imiquimod through a hydrogel/oleogel colloidal mixture (CA bigel) containing fish oil as an anti-inflammatory agent. Imiquimod permeability from Aldara® cream and bigel through mice skin was evaluated, and the drug content residing in the skin via the tape stripping technique was quantified. The fish oil fatty acid content in skin along with its lipophilic environment was also determined. An inflammation study was conducted using animal models, and Aldara(®) cream was found to potentially cause psoriasis-like inflammation, which could be owing to prolonged application and excessive drug permeation. Controlled release of imiquimod along with fish oil through CA bigel may have caused reduced imiquimod inflammation. NMR studies and computerized molecular modeling were also conducted to observe whether the fish oil and imiquimod formed a complex that was responsible for improving imiquimod transport and reducing its side effects. NMR spectra showed dose-dependent chemical shifts and molecular modeling revealed π-σ interaction between EPA and imiquimod, which could help reduce imiquimod inflammation.
  10. Khan QU, Siddique MI, Sarfraz M, Rehman K, Sohail MF, Katas H
    PMID: 34936317 DOI: 10.1615/CritRevTherDrugCarrierSyst.2021036885
    Orodispersible films (ODFs) have served as an emerging platform for the delivery of drugs in a convenient way. They have numerous advantages, the significant one is simplicity of administration for special populations such as pediatric and geriatric as well as patients with swallowing difficulty. Besides, the advantages include accurate dosing and fast action. The ODFs are efficiently designed with detailed knowledge of drug and polymers as well as a suitable selection of method. Many conventional and advance formulation strategies have been used for the development of ODFs. The biopharmaceutical concerns of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) are given in this review in light of the fact that ODFs can be utilized to increase the bioavailability of APIs. The basic critical issues such as good mechanical properties, water solubility of the API and taste masking are very important to be considered during the development of ODFs. The knowledge of critical quality concerns of ODFs will be helpful in the future development of ODF. As ODFs remain in the mouth until complete degradation, taste, texture and mouth-feel are the qualities that in all respects liable for acceptability of the patient. An assortment of packaging choices is also accessible for ODFs. This review focuses on the different critical concerns of ODF related to composition, bio-pharmaceutical, manufacturing, quality tests, packaging and acceptability. Additionally, potential barriers in the ODFs development are discussed in details. Therefore, this review is an informative bundle of ODFs concerns from the product development stage to the end-user acceptability.
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