Ultrasonic Synthesis and Processing of Nanoparticles for the Pharmaceutical Industry

By AZoNano Staff Writers

Table of Contents

Introduction
Drug Delivery via Nanoparticles
Production and Processing of Nanoparticles
Functionalized Carbon Nanotubes
Ultrasonic Production and Precipitation of Nanoparticles
Ultrasonic Functionalization of Nanoparticles
Ultrasonic Liposome Formation
Conclusion
About Hielscher Ultrasonics

Introduction

Ultrasound is a novel technology that is typically utilized for sonochemical synthesis, dispersion deagglomeration, emulsification and activation of particles. In nanotechnology, ultrasonication is an important method for production and processing of nano-sized materials.

As nanotechnology has gained significant prominence, nano-sized particles are being used in ever more industrial and scientific fields. The high potential of these variable and versatile materials has also attracted considerable interest from the pharmaceutical field.

As a result, nanoparticles are involved in many functional applications in the pharmaceutical industry. These comprise carriers for drug delivery, biomarker discovery, diagnostic products, and product packaging.

Since nanomaterials are particles that measure less than 100nm, the synthesis and processing of these substances have a number of special requirements.

Drug Delivery via Nanoparticles

Drug delivery using nanoparticles is an established technique for delivering active agents. This technology helps in delivering heat, drugs, and other active substances to diseased cells without affecting healthy cells.

In cancer therapy, drug molecules in high doses can be delivered directly to the tumor cells without any major side effects to other organs.

Production and Processing of Nanoparticles

In order to produce and process nanoparticles, it is important to break down agglomerates and to overcome bonding forces. Ultrasonic cavitation is a proven technology to deagglomerate and dissolve nanomaterials.

The huge range of properties nanomaterials  can possess offers many opportunities for pharmaceutical research. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) for instance have definite inner and outer surfaces for functionalization, and enable more drug molecules to be encapsulated. CNTs are capable of carrying active agents, proteins, peptides, DNA, targeting ligands, and other molecules into cells.

Functionalized Carbon Nanotubes

Functionalized carbon nanotubes (f-CNTs) are known to improve solubility and enable efficient tumor targeting. They also serve as vaccine delivery systems. The basic idea is to attach the antigen to carbon nanotubes while maintaining its conformation, thereby promoting antibody response with the right specificity.

Ultrasonic Production and Precipitation of Nanoparticles

Figure 1. Hielscher's UP50H lab device for the sonication of small volumes, e.g. dispersing MWNTs

Ceramic nanoparticles, such as silica, titania and alumina, have a porous particle surface, which makes them a suitable drug carrier.

Nanoparticles can be produced bottom-up through synthesis or precipitation. Sonochemistry is one of the first methods utilized to prepare nanosize compounds. Ultrasonication has consistently been shown to enhance the combination of precursors, and increase the mass-transfer at the particle surface. This results in particles with smaller particle size and higher uniformity. Figure 1 shows the UP50H lab device for the sonication of small volumes.

Ultrasonic Functionalization of Nanoparticles

In order to obtain nanoparticles with specific functions and properties, it is necessary to modify the particles’ surface. Nanosystems such as polymeric liposomes, nanoparticles, carbon nanotubes, quantum dots, and dendrimers can be effectively functionalized for optimum use in pharmaceutics.

To functionalize the entire surface of each particle, a good dispersion technique is needed. Upon dispersion, particles are usually surrounded by a layer of molecules. In order to ensure that new functional groups reach the particle surface, this layer of molecules has to be removed.

The liquid currents originating from ultrasonic cavitation can reach speeds of up to 1000km/hr. This stress assists in overcoming the attracting forces and carries the functional molecules to the surface of the particle. In sonochemistry, this effect is employed to enhance the performance of dispersed catalysts.

 

Figure 2. Ultrasonic dispersion of SWCNTs with PL-PEG

Figure 2 shows the ultrasonic functionalization of SWCNTs by PL-PEG. Ultrasonic treatment in the presence of PL-PEG is a common technique utilized to functionalize or disperse CNTs; the integrity of PEG is critical to promote specific cellular uptake of ligand-functionalized nanotubes.

Ultrasonic Liposome Formation

Preparation of liposomes and nano-liposomes are another effective application of ultrasound. Liposomes act as excellent carriers, and liposome-based drug and gene delivery systems play a key role in various therapies, including nutrition and cosmetics.

For liposome preparation, amphiphilic molecules are required, which are derived from biological membrane lipids. To form small unilamellar vesicles (SUV), the lipid dispersion is gently sonicated, for instance with the VialTweeter, the UP50H ultrasonic device, or the UTR200 ultrasonic reactor in an ice bath. Hielscher Ultrasonics supplies ultrasonic devices, probes, and accessories to meet the needs of different kinds of processes.

Conclusion

In addition to the ultrasonic synthesis of nanoparticles, the processing of these substances presents a broad field for applications of ultrasonication. For instance, the agglomerates have to be broken, the surfaces have to be activated, particles have to be dispersed, etc. For all these processing steps, ultrasound presents a suitable technique.

Hielscher offers high quality and high performance ultrasonic processors for both lab and industrial applications. With the combination of high performance, robustness, reliability, and easy operation, ultrasonic treatment provides an important method for processing of nanomaterials. Hielscher's ultrasonic devices, fitted with clean-in-place (CIP) and sterilize-in-place (SIP) ensure safe and efficient production in accordance with pharmaceutical standards.

About Hielscher Ultrasonics

Hielscher Ultrasonics is a family business, located in Teltow near Berlin (Germany). The main emphasis of its activities is the conception, development and production of ultrasonic devices for the use in laboratory and industrial applications. Technological innovations together with the realization of new ultrasound based processes substantiated the company growth and its market acceptance.

Today, ultrasonic devices made by Hielscher Ultrasonics are being used in laboratories and production plants on all continents across the world. More than 70% of the total sales is based on export. Almost every second device is supplied to customers outside Europe.

Hielscher Ultrasonics integrates the ultrasonic devices into complex ultrasonic systems, such as wire cleaning systems, too. The systems are produced to meet the customers requirements in terms of power, extended range of accessories and steady state proof equipment.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Hielscher Ultrasonics GmbH.

For more information on this source, please visit Hielscher Ultrasonics GmbH.

Date Added: Feb 17, 2014 | Updated: Feb 20, 2014
Comments
  1. Yuehui Zhou Yuehui Zhou Canada says:

    Is the website of your comany down? From Canada I can't open it.

  2. Yuehui Zhou Yuehui Zhou Canada says:

    I like your HP50H, how much does it cost?

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of AZoNano.com.
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