Integration of advanced methods and models to study drug absorption and related processes: an UNGAP perspective

Clive G. Wilson, Leon Aarons, Patrick Augustijns, Joachim Brouwers, Adam S. Darwich, Tom De Waal, Grzegorz Garbacz, Simone Hansmann, Dagmara Hoc, Anela Ivanova, Mirko Koziolek, Christos Reppas, Philipp Schick, Maria Vertzoni, J. Arturo García-Horsman

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This collection of contributions from the European Network on Understanding Gastrointestinal Absorption-related Processes (UNGAP) community assembly aims to provide information on some of the current and newer methods employed to study the behaviour of medicines. It is the product of interactions in the immediate pre-Covid period when UNGAP members were able to meet and set up workshops and to discuss progress across the disciplines. UNGAP activities are divided into work packages that cover special treatment populations, absorption processes in different regions of the gut, the development of advanced formulations and the integration of food and pharmaceutical scientists in the food-drug interface. This involves both new and established technical approaches in which we have attempted to define best practice and highlight areas where further research is needed. Over the last months we have been able to reflect on some of the key innovative approaches which we were tasked with mapping, including theoretical, in silico, in vitro, in vivo and ex vivo, preclinical and clinical approaches. This is the product of some of us in a snapshot of where UNGAP has travelled and what aspects of innovative technologies are important. It is not a comprehensive review of all methods used in research to study drug dissolution and absorption, but provides an ample panorama of current and advanced methods generally and potentially useful in this area. This collection starts from a consideration of advances in a priori approaches: an understanding of the molecular properties of the compound to predict biological characteristics relevant to absorption. The next four sections discuss a major activity in the UNGAP initiative, the pursuit of more representative conditions to study lumenal dissolution of drug formulations developed independently by academic teams. They are important because they illustrate examples of in vitro simulation systems that have begun to provide a useful understanding of formulation behaviour in the upper GI tract for industry. The Leuven team highlights the importance of the physiology of the digestive tract, as they describe the relevance of gastric and intestinal fluids on the behaviour of drugs along the tract. This provides the introduction to microdosing as an early tool to study drug disposition. Microdosing in oncology is starting to use gamma-emitting tracers, which provides a link through SPECT to the next section on nuclear medicine. The last two papers link the modelling approaches used by the pharmaceutical industry, in silico to Pop-PK linking to Darwich and Aarons, who provide discussion on pharmacometric modelling, completing the loop of molecule to man.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106100
Number of pages34
JournalEuropean Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Early online date2 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2022


  • gastrointestinal tract
  • human intestinal fluid
  • in silico models of absorption
  • in vitro models of absorpt
  • molecular dynamics
  • nuclear imaging
  • oral drug product development
  • pharmacometric modelling
  • scintigraphy

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