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Controlled drug delivery is a key topic in modern pharmacotherapy, where controlled drug delivery devices are required to prolong the period of release, maintain a constant release rate, or release the drug with a predetermined release proﬁle. In the pharmaceutical industry, the development process of a controlled drug delivery device may be facilitated enormously by the mathematical modelling of drug release mechanisms, directly decreasing the number of necessary experiments. Such mathematical modelling is difficult because several mechanisms are involved during the drug release process. The main drug release mechanisms of a controlled release device are based on the device's physiochemical properties, and include diffusion, swelling and erosion.
In this thesis, four controlled drug delivery models are investigated. These four models selectively involve the solvent penetration into the polymeric device, the swelling of the polymer, the polymer erosion and the drug diffusion out of the device but all share two common key features. The first is that the solvent penetration into the polymer causes the transition of the polymer from a glassy state into a rubbery state. The interface between the two states of the polymer is modelled as a moving boundary and the speed of this interface is governed by a kinetic law. The second feature is that drug diffusion only happens in the rubbery region of the polymer, with a nonlinear diffusion coefficient which is dependent on the concentration of solvent. These models are analysed by using both formal asymptotics and numerical computation, where front-fixing methods and the method of lines with finite difference approximations are used to solve these models numerically. This numerical scheme is conservative, accurate and easily implemented to the moving boundary problems and is thoroughly explained in Section 3.2. From the small time asymptotic analysis in Sections 5.3.1, 6.3.1 and 7.2.1, these models exhibit the non-Fickian behaviour referred to as Case II diffusion, and an initial constant rate of drug release which is appealing to the pharmaceutical industry because this indicates zero-order release. The numerical results of the models qualitatively confirms the experimental behaviour identified in the literature. The knowledge obtained from investigating these models can help to develop more complex multi-layered drug delivery devices in order to achieve sophisticated drug release profiles. A multi-layer matrix tablet, which consists of a number of polymer layers designed to provide sustainable and constant drug release or bimodal drug release, is also discussed in this research.
The moving boundary problem describing the solvent penetration into the polymer also arises in melting and freezing problems which have been modelled as the classical one-phase Stefan problem. The classical one-phase Stefan problem has unrealistic singularities existed in the problem at the complete melting time. Hence we investigate the effect of including the kinetic undercooling to the melting problem and this problem is called the one-phase Stefan problem with kinetic undercooling. Interestingly we discover the unrealistic singularities existed in the classical one-phase Stefan problem at the complete melting time are regularised and also find out the small time behaviour of the one-phase Stefan problem with kinetic undercooling is different to the classical one-phase Stefan problem from the small time asymptotic analysis in Section 3.3. In the case of melting very small particles, it is known that surface tension effects are important. The effect of including the surface tension to the melting problem for nanoparticles (no kinetic undercooling) has been investigated in the past, however the one-phase Stefan problem with surface tension exhibits finite-time blow-up. Therefore we investigate the effect of including both the surface tension and kinetic undercooling to the melting problem for nanoparticles and find out the the solution continues to exist until complete melting. The investigation of including kinetic undercooling and surface tension to the melting problems reveals more insight into the regularisations of unphysical singularities in the classical one-phase Stefan problem. This investigation gives a better understanding of melting a particle, and contributes to the current body of knowledge related to melting and freezing due to heat conduction.