• bioavailability;
  • drug nanoparticles;
  • HIV;
  • nanodispersions;
  • pharmacology

Nanomedicine strategies have produced many commercial products. However, no orally dosed HIV nanomedicines are available clinically to patients. Although nanosuspensions of drug particles have demonstrated many benefits, experimentally achieving >25 wt% of drug relative to stabilizers is highly challenging. In this study, the emulsion-templated freeze-drying technique for nanoparticles formation is applied for the first time to optimize a nanodispersion of the leading non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor efavirenz, using clinically acceptable polymers and surfactants. Dry monoliths containing solid drug nanoparticles with extremely high drug loading (70 wt% relative to polymer and surfactant stabilizers) are stable for several months and reconstitute in aqueous media to provide nanodispersions with z-average diameters of 300 nm. The solid drug nanoparticles exhibit reduced cytoxicity and increased in vitro transport through model gut epithelium. In vivo studies confirm bioavailability benefits with an approximately four-fold higher pharmacokinetic exposure after oral administration to rodents, and predictive modeling suggests dose reduction with the new formulation may be possible.