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Customizable Nanoparticle Technologies Offer Look into the Future of Drug Delivery

By Zachary Brennan , 10-Jul-2013
Last updated the 10-Jul-2013 at 14:30 GMT

Customizable Nanoparticle Tech to Pave Future of Drug Delivery
Customizable Nanoparticle Tech to Pave Future of Drug Delivery

US scientists claim their combination of a novel nanoparticle production platform and innovative spray coating technology paves the way for improved drug, biologic and vaccine targeting.  

The nanoparticle tech, known as PRINT (Particle Replication In Non-wetting Templates), produces drug particles whose size, shape and composition is tightly controlled which, says developer Dr. Joseph DeSimone from the University of North Carolina, separates it from emulsion, liposome or mcielle-based methods.

He told in-Pharmatechnologist.com that: “The PRINT technology differs from other nanoparticle fabrication techniques through the use of a template to mold drugs and polymers into particles of precise size, shape and composition.” 

DeSimone explained that the team used approaches from the microelectronics industry to make these tiny (less than 100nm) elastic molds which, because they are compatible with organic materials, can be used for biological applications.

Also, according to DeSimone, because the molds are used to make particles in a dry, continuous roll to roll process the heterogeneity in particle size and composition common to production methods in which the particles are assembled in solution is avoided.  

The PRINT technology was purchased for commercial use by Liquidia Technologies.

Nanoparticle Coating

The PRINT team did not stop at particle production. They also further explored the technology's drug delivery potential by combining it with a coating system developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor Paula Hammond and owned by Svaya Nanotechnologies.

By incorporating the spray coating tech into the PRINT process the  group were able to modify the nanoparticles’ surface properties during manufacture, which DeSimone says could have significant advantages from a drug delivery perspective.

[Hammond’s] technology allows us to avoid any post fabrication surface modifications” which he added “may enable us to make more precise drugs with fewer side effects.” 

The other main advantages of combining the two techs – which is described in detail in a paper published in the July edition of the subscription only journal Advanced Materials - are “control and reproducibility” according to DeSimone.

“[Hammond’s process] allows very precise coatings to be applied, which may improve control over drug dissolution rates from our particles to ultimately provide better control of drug pharmacokinetics. 

Additionally, because active agents may be incorporated into the coatings, this process may be useful to display antigens on particle surfaces for vaccines or to present targeting ligands to target cancer cells.”

He also said that because “surface chemistry is a huge factor in controlling particle biodistribution, more consistent surface chemistry should reduce the variability of in vivo biodistribution.”

Some challenges do still remain such as the heterogeneity introduced by the purification process but, as DeSimone pointed out, “this is something all particles must go through” and can be addressed by process optimisation.

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