Packaging / Drug Delivery / Aseptic Processing

It's a Small(er) World

Nanotechnology developments illustrate the potential of miniaturization to transform the pharmaceutical industry.

By Gregg Carlstrom, Assistant Editor

Two recent breakthroughs in nanotechnology illustrate the potential of miniaturization to transform the pharmaceutical industry. Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are creating nano-sized particles without the use of harsh solvents or high temperatures. What this means is that organic ingredients can be included in the microscopic particles.

This process “opens the world’s door to marrying organic materials to nanotechnology,” says head researcher Dr. Joseph M. DeSimone. “Biology, after all, is almost exclusively organic materials.”

Illustrations from the article "Direct Fabrication and Harvesting of Monodisperse, Shape-Specific Nanobiomaterials," J. Am. Chem. Soc., 127 (28), 10096 -10100, 2005.

DeSimone’s team used a chemical they call “liquid Teflon” to create the molds that are used to craft individual particles. The particles can be designed to carry organic matter — genes or drugs, for example — as “cargo.” DeSimone says his team conducted successful tests with several organic compounds.

More details on the new technology appear in the July 20 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
Q-chip Multicircuit MicroPlant with UV irradiation

In other nano-news, U.K.-based manufacturer Q Chip, Ltd. has unveiled the MicroPlant, which it calls the first-ever fully-functioning microcapsule development platform (see photo). The plant uses microfluidic technology to control chemical reactions and manufacture capsules in the range of 100 to 2,000 microns.

Q Chip calls MicroPlant a major development for nanotechnology and for the pharmaceutical industry; the state-of-the-art controlled release capabilities of microcapsules hold the promise of better drug delivery. For more information, visit


Free Subscriptions

Pharma Manufacturing Digital Edition

Access the entire print issue on-line and be notified each month via e-mail when your new issue is ready for you. Subscribe Today. E-Newsletters

A mix of feature articles and current new stories that are critical to staying up-to-date on the industry, delivered to your inbox. Choose from an assortment of different topics and frequencies. Subscribe Today.