A new coating technology developed at MIT, combined with a novel nanoparticle-manufacturing technology developed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, may offer scientists a way to quickly mass-produce tailored nanoparticles that are specially coated for specific applications, including medicines and electronics.
Using this new combination of the two existing technologies, scientists can produce very small, uniform particles with customized layers of material that can carry drugs or other molecules to interact with their environment, or even target specific types of cells.
Creating highly reproducible batches of precisely engineered, coated nanoparticles is important for the safe manufacture of drugs and obtaining regulatory approval, says Paula Hammond, the David H. Koch Professor in Chemical Engineering at MIT and a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.
“Everyone’s excited about nanomedicine’s potential, and there are some systems that are making it out to market, but people are also concerned about how reproducible each batch is. That’s especially critical for applications such as cancer therapies,” Hammond says. “Fortunately, we have combined two technologies that are at the forefront of addressing these issues and that show great promise for the future of nanomanufacturing.”
Hammond’s lab previously developed a layer-by-layer deposition technique for coating nanoparticle surfaces with alternating layers of drugs, RNA, proteins or other molecules of interest. Those coatings can also be designed to protect nanoparticles from being destroyed by the body’s immune system before reaching their intended targets.
“It’s a very versatile platform for incorporating therapeutics,” Hammond says. However, the layer-by-layer application processes commonly used today to coat nanoparticles take too long to be useful for rapid, large-scale manufacture: For each layer, the particles must be soaked in a solution of the coating material, then spun in a centrifuge to remove excess coating. Applying each layer takes about an hour.
In the new study, the MIT researchers used a spray-based technique, which allows them to apply each layer in just a few seconds. This technology was previously developed in the Hammond lab and is now being commercialized by Svaya Nanotechnologies.
Hammond combined this approach with a nanoparticle-manufacturing technology known as the PRINT (Particle Replication In Non-wetting Templates) platform, which was developed in the DeSimone lab at UNC and is now being commercialized by Liquidia Technologies. Liquidia focuses on using the PRINT platform to create novel nanotechnology-based health-care products, vaccines and therapeutics.