Roquette develops Lycagel softgel shell to offer enhanced flexibility

Published: 14-May-2024

The novel technology offers enhanced flexibility in softgel manufacturing, preventing crosslinking and rapid shelf degradation

Roquette, a plant-based ingredients provider, has launched its novel LYCAGEL Flex hydroxypropyl pea starch premix for nutraceutical and pharmaceutical softgel capsules.

Built on Roquette’s market-first LYCAGEL pea starch technology, the new plasticiser-free excipient gives manufacturers freedom to select the optimal plasticiser combination and customise formulations for a range of production and end-user needs, while setting new standards in quality, stability and performance for plant-based softgels.

Those at Vitafoods Europe 2024 can speak to the Roquette team about this innovation at stand K148 between 14-16 May 2024.


Unlocking the power of flexibility

Gelatin-based softgel capsules are a long-standing staple across the nutraceutical and pharmaceutical industries thanks to their widespread patient acceptance, safety profile and mechanical stability.

Despite their popularity, however, these dosage forms can be challenging to manufacture successfully. Interactions with specific fill types, molecular crosslinking and sensitivity to heat and moisture during storage may compromise the stability of gelatin-based capsules, leaving patients with sticky, deformed, or ineffective medicines and supplements.

What’s more, as a growing number of consumers pursue vegetarian, vegan or flexitarian diets, so animal-derived ingredients like gelatin are becoming less of a universally accepted standard.

LYCAGEL Flex represents a solution for manufacturers seeking a quality, plant-based alternative to gelatin, with the added flexibility to handle a wide range of soft capsule formulations. The new premix features the same hydroxypropyl pea starch and carrageenan foundation as the original LYCAGEL VS 720 Premix, with a new formula that allows producers to select the perfect plasticiser or combination of plasticisers for unqiue softgel formulations.

Versatile and easy to use, LYCAGEL Flex offers opportunities to work with specialised capsule fills and process parameters to meet the demands of the evolving pharmaceutical and nutraceutical markets.

“At Roquette, our guiding purpose is to solve the toughest challenges in drug delivery,” comments Steve Amoussou-Guenou, Technical Developer Manager Europe at Roquette. “This can take many forms; with the development of our LYCAGEL VS 720 Premix, the primary goal was to provide softgel producers with a high-quality ready-to-use alternative to gelatin. Now, as vegan capsules become more established, we recognize that our customers need greater control to customize their formulations.  LYCAGEL Flex is the answer, offering the same stability and performance with the added flexibility to differentiate.”


Firmer, better, faster, stronger

Similar to its predecessor, LYCAGEL Flex offers softgel producers a plant-based solution that not only replaces gelatin, but equally offers significant process benefits. These include a reduced degassing time of just five minutes, versus the minimum 60 required for gelatin formulations, and the potential for easy equipment cleaning with only hot water.      

Looking beyond the production line, the new premix delivers market-leading performance and stability throughout a product’s shelf life. Upon testing, capsules produced using LYCAGEL® Flex maintained a clear, shiny appearance and optimal hardness with no sticking or seal leakage following six months of storage at 40° C and 75% relative humidity (RH).

With no significant increase in disintegration time or water content after months in storage, the capsules did not display crosslinking, demonstrating their ability to maintain the same mechanical strength and capsule integrity at day 180, as they had directly after the production process.

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