A SWOT analysis of nano co-crystals in drug delivery: present outlook and future perspectives

Bwalya A. Witika*, Yahya E. Choonara, Patrick H. Demana

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The formulation of poorly soluble drugs is an intractable challenge in the field of drug design, development and delivery. This is particularly problematic for molecules that exhibit poor solubility in both organic and aqueous media. Usually, this is difficult to resolve using conventional formulation strategies and has resulted in many potential drug candidates not progressing beyond early stage development. Furthermore, some drug candidates are abandoned due to toxicity or have an undesirable biopharmaceutical profile. In many instances drug candidates do not exhibit desirable processing characteristics to be manufactured at scale. Nanocrystals and co-crystals, are progressive approaches in crystal engineering that can solve some of these limitations. While these techniques are relatively facile, they also require optimisation. Combining crystallography with nanoscience can yield nano co-crystals that feature the benefits of both fields, resulting in additive or synergistic effects to drug discovery and development. Nano co-crystals as drug delivery systems can potentially improve drug bioavailability and reduce the side-effects and pill burden of many drug candidates that require chronic dosing as part of treatment regimens. In addition, nano co-crystals are carrier-free colloidal drug delivery systems with particle sizes ranging between 100 and 1000 nm comprising a drug molecule, a co-former and a viable drug delivery strategy for poorly soluble drugs. They are simple to prepare and have broad applicability. In this article, the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the use of nano co-crystals are reviewed and a concise incursion into the salient aspects of nano co-crystals is undertaken.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7339-7351
Number of pages13
JournalRSC Advances
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2023


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