Polysaccharide-based hydrogel particles (PbHPs) are very promising carriers aiming to control and target the release of drugs with different physico-chemical properties. Such delivery systems can offer benefits through the proper encapsulation of many drugs (non-steroidal and steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics, etc) ensuring their proper release and targeting. This review discusses the different phases involved in the production of PbHPs in pharmaceutical technology, such as droplet formation (SOL phase), sol-gel transition of the droplets (GEL phase) and drying, as well as the different methods available for droplet production with a special focus on prilling technique. In addition, an overview of the various droplet gelation methods with particular emphasis on ionic cross-linking of several polysaccharides enabling the formation of particles with inner highly porous network or nanofibrillar structure is given. Moreover, a detailed survey of the different inner texture, in xerogels, cryogels or aerogels, each with specific arrangement and properties, which can be obtained with different drying methods, is presented. Various case studies are reported to highlight the most appropriate application of such systems in pharmaceutical field. We also describe the challenges to be faced for the breakthrough towards clinic studies and, finally, the market, focusing on the useful approach of safety-by-design (SbD).
Keywords: aerogels; cryogels; droplets; drying; hydrogels; ionotropic gelation; polysaccharides; prilling; xerogels.