Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Breakthrough: UNC scientists have created world’s tiniest uniform, precisely shaped organic particles

22.06.2005


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill chemists have developed what they believe is a breakthrough method of creating the world’s tiniest manufactured particles for delivering drugs and other organic materials into the human body.



Adapting technology pioneered by the electronics industry in fabricating transistors, the team has figured out for the first time how to create particles for carrying genetic material, pharmaceuticals and other compounds of unprecedented small size and uniformity. The tiny bits are so small they can be designed and constructed to measure only a hundred nanometers or so in diameter. A nanometer is a billionth of a meter.

Leading the group is Dr. Joseph M. DeSimone, William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished professor of chemistry and chemical engineering at UNC and N.C. State University. A member of the UNC College of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, DeSimone also directs the National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center for Environmentally Responsible Solvents and Processes and the Institute for Advanced Materials, Nanoscience and Technology at UNC.


"Billions of dollars are being spent now on nanotechnology and nanoparticles, but 99 percent of the materials people are focusing on are metals and metal oxides, which are inorganic," DeSimone said. "Our method, which is really exciting, for the first time opens the world’s door to marrying organic materials to nanotechnology. Biology, after all, is almost exclusively organic materials.

"We really believe this work will have a profound positive impact down the road on human health care. This includes, but is not limited to, chemotherapy, gene therapy, disease detection and drug delivery."

A report on the findings appeared online this morning (June 21) in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Other authors -- all in chemistry at UNC -- are Drs. Jason P. Rolland and Ginger M. Denison, recent Ph.D. recipients; Drs. Benjamin W. Maynor and Larkin E. Euliss, postdoctoral fellows; and graduate student Ansley E. Exner.

Until now, DeSimone said, most current techniques for particle formation were incompatible with organic materials. That was because they involved baking, etching or processing robust metals and such with solvents that would have destroyed far more fragile organic matter such as genes or drugs.

The new method avoids harsh treatment but also allows formation of uniform particles in any shape designers choose – spheres, rods, cones, trapezoidal solids, etc. -- and essentially any composition, he said. The relatively simple process, which he and colleagues are calling Particle Replication in Nonwetting Templates, or PRINT, also avoids creating films or "scum layers" that would clump particles together rather than allowing them to be harvested independent of one another.

"This is in contrast to traditional imprint lithography with silicon, glass or quartz molds where it is difficult to eliminate this residual material between objects," DeSimone said.

Particles injected into the body can be designed to be biodegradable, he said. Some are made from the same material used to make surgical sutures. They will incorporate as "cargo" whatever biological material designers want to get into patients’ bloodstreams for more efficient uptake by cells for diagnostic testing or therapy.

Studies with various organic compounds have been very successful, the chemist said. New studies with mice have recently begun at the UNC School of Medicine, which DeSimone joined as professor of pharmacology.

"The process starts off when we make a master template in a clean room at places like the Triangle National Lithography Center at N.C. State University," DeSimone said. "From that we make impressions with what we call liquid Teflon, and the resulting molds look something like ice cube trays with tiny cavities in them. After that, we mold the carrier and fragile functional materials into whatever particles we want and gently wash them off the molds with buffer solutions into vials or other containers to concentrate them. Then they can be injected."

DeSimone, his colleagues, UNC and others have formed a new company, Liquidia Technologies Inc., with $2.5 million in angel funding and venture capital to further develop and commercialize the unique new technology. It is the second company for which DeSimone has been largely responsible.

The first was MiCell Technologies, which developed his research showing that it was possible to use carbon dioxide as a solvent in place of organic solvents, which polluted the environment.

"We are most excited about the commercial implications of Professor DeSimone’s breakthrough with PRINT," said Dr. Lowry Caudill, chairman of Liquidia. "We believe that the PRINT process is an extremely versatile method that offers unparalleled uniformity and precision for making organic nanoparticles that will have profound implications in medicine and many other industries, including display technologies.

"Prior to this, no one else has fused the highly uniform and precise methods for fabricating transistors with the organic nanoparticle world," said Bruce Boucher, president of Liquidia. "It is truly a revolutionary discovery."

Support for the research came from the Office of Naval Research, the National Science Foundation and the William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professorship.

David Williamson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.unc.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Switch-in-a-cell electrifies life
18.12.2018 | Rice University

nachricht Plant biologists identify mechanism behind transition from insect to wind pollination
18.12.2018 | University of Toronto

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Data storage using individual molecules

Researchers from the University of Basel have reported a new method that allows the physical state of just a few atoms or molecules within a network to be controlled. It is based on the spontaneous self-organization of molecules into extensive networks with pores about one nanometer in size. In the journal ‘small’, the physicists reported on their investigations, which could be of particular importance for the development of new storage devices.

Around the world, researchers are attempting to shrink data storage devices to achieve as large a storage capacity in as small a space as possible. In almost...

Im Focus: Data use draining your battery? Tiny device to speed up memory while also saving power

The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.

Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Pressure tuned magnetism paves the way for novel electronic devices

18.12.2018 | Materials Sciences

New type of low-energy nanolaser that shines in all directions

18.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA research reveals Saturn is losing its rings at 'worst-case-scenario' rate

18.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>