DC bead: In vitro characterization of a drug-delivery device for transarterial chemoembolization

A.L. Lewis, M.V. Gonzalez, Andrew Lloyd, B. Hall, Y.Q. Tang, S.L. Willis, S.W. Leppard, L.C. Wolfenden, R.R. Palmer, P.W. Stratford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE The purpose of this investigation is to present the in vitro characterization and detailed drug-loading procedure for DC Bead, a microsphere product that can be loaded with chemotherapeutic agents for embolization. MATERIALS AND METHODS DC Bead is an embolic microsphere product that is capable of being loaded with anthracycline drugs such as doxorubicin just before administration in a transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) procedure. Beads can be loaded from solutions prepared from doxorubicin powder or the doxorubicin HCl formulation. In this evaluation, bead sizes were measured by optical microscopy with video imaging. Gravimetric analysis demonstrated the effect of drug loading on bead water content, and its consequent impact on bead compressibility was determined. The subsequent deliverability of the beads was assessed by mixing the beads with contrast medium and saline solution and passing the beads through an appropriately sized microcatheter. A T-cell apparatus was used to monitor the in vitro elution of the drug from the beads over a period of 24 hours in various elution media. RESULTS DC Bead spheres could be easily loaded with doxorubicin to a recommended level of 25 mg/mL of hydrated beads by immersion of the beads in the drug solution for 10–120 minutes depending on microsphere size. Other commercial embolic microspheres were shown not to load doxorubicin to the same extent or release it in the same fashion and were considered unsuitable for local drug delivery. Maximum theoretic capacity for DC Bead was approximately 45 mg/mL. Increase in doxorubicin loading resulted in a concomitant decrease in water content and consequential increase in bead resistance to compression force. Drug loading also resulted in a decrease in the average size of the beads, which was dependent on bead size and drug dose. This did not impact bead delivery at any drug loading level to a maximum of 37.5 mg/mL. Beads 100–700 μm in size could be delivered through 2.7-F microcatheters, whereas the 700–900-μm range required 3-F catheters. Modeling of the kinetics of drug elution from the beads in vitro at a loading dose of 25 mg/mL yielded calculated half-lives of 150 hours for the 100–300-μm range to a maximum of 1,730 hours for the 700–900-μm size range, which was dependent on the ionic strength of the elution medium. For comparison, there was a rapid loss of drug from an unstable Lipiodol emulsion with a half-life of approximately 1 hour. CONCLUSIONS DC Bead can be loaded with doxorubicin to provide an accurate dosage of drug per unit volume of beads. Drug elution is dependent on ion exchange with the surrounding environment and is controlled and sustained, unlike the rapid separation of the drug from Lipiodol. Drug loading has no impact on the handling and deliverability of the beads, making them suitable for superselective TACE.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-342
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2006


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