9. August 2019 | Press releases:

Nanoparticles for better bioavailability of pharmaceuticals DFG and Fraunhofer approve TU Braunschweig cooperation project

The German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft are funding a trilateral project of the Technische Universität Braunschweig: The Institute of Microtechnology is developing a nanoparticle reactor together with the Fraunhofer Institute for Microengineering and Microsystems (IMM) in Mainz and an application partner, which will enable new dosage forms for modern active pharmaceutical ingredients to be developed. The aim of the funding programme for trilateral projects is to transfer findings from DFG-funded projects to industry more quickly. The seven projects, in which universities, Fraunhofer Institutes and companies cooperate, will receive a total of six million euros over three years.

Many modern pharmaceutical substances have poor water solubility and highly lipophilic properties, i.e. good solubility in fats and oils. As a result, there is an increasing demand for alternative dosage forms in order to administer these drugs in a suitable way. However, the dosage form can be improved by reducing the size of the active ingredient particles, which results in the development of fundamental other biophysical properties. Corresponding nanoparticles of drugs or carrier particles in dispersions, so-called colloidal carrier systems, for such active ingredients offer advantages for the bioavailability of drugs. The production of these particles in sufficiently high pharmaceutical quality, however, still poses a challenge.

One answer to this could be “DLS feedback-regulated continuous particle production”. The Institute of  Microtechnology at the TU Braunschweig, headed by Professor Andreas Dietzel, is working on this process together with the Fraunhofer Institute IMM and the application partner ConSenxus GmbH. “Many active substances can only unfold their biological effect as nanoparticles. There is an urgent need for methods that allow the particle size to be better controlled during production. Bringing the microfluidic chips from the Institute of Microtechnology together with the online particle measurement technology of the Fraunhofer Institute makes it possible to approach a feedback-regulated process on a microscale that could lead to a breakthrough in nanoparticle production”, says Professor Dietzel.

The aim is to develop a nanoparticle reactor with which the size, size distribution and shape of the produced particles can be precisely adjusted and a long-term stable process can be ensured. The project is based on many years of work on lab-on-chip systems for pharmaceutical applications at the IMT. The device is to be further developed in such a way that, in combination with a microfluidic particle generation unit, a user-friendly system for nanoparticle production with integrated analytics is created. The system combines methods developed at university level with integrated analytical peripherals from the Fraunhofer Institute. The three partners want to further develop the system so that it can be used in industrial laboratories.

The device will eliminate the need for in-house analytics for users who want to enter particle production in very small quantities. It thus expands the range of users in question and reduces the costs and overall effort for the operator, also because no specially qualified specialist personnel is required for the operation of the instrument.

Trilateral research project

Experience with transfer activities shows that, despite the successes achieved, there are still systematic difficulties. These include the search for suitable partners. Small and medium-sized enterprises, in particular, face major hurdles because they often do not have sufficient research capacities to take up the results of DFG-funded projects as a productive interface and further develop them. Against this background, the DFG and Fraunhofer are interlinking selected transfer activities. The aim of the programme for trilateral projects is to facilitate the transfer of findings from DFG projects to companies.

Seven trilateral projects were selected from 20 submitted project proposals from the engineering, natural and life sciences. Previously, all proposals had been evaluated in a joint review and decision-making process agreed between the Fraunhofer and DFG. The seven projects will be funded with a total of six million euros over three years. The approved funding for the TU Braunschweig amounts to 495,000 euros.