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The University of Southampton

Research project: Organic nanoparticles for drug delivery – size matters

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Making drug-loaded nanoparticles in a controllable way with uniform size or a narrow size range is crucial for their use as nanomedicine.

In pharmaceutical products most of the active organic compounds are poorly soluble in water or even water-insoluble, but medicine applications require them to be administrated into the body’s aqueous environment with sufficient concentrations.

We take the approach to use core-shell structured nanoparticles as vehicles. In the polymer based core-shell structure, the polymer chain’s hydrophilic (water-loving) ends form the corona or outer shell while their hydrophobic (water-hating) ends form the core of the particle. Thus, the hydrophobic core serves as a micro-environment for loading water insoluble drugs, while the shell serves as a stabilising interface between the hydrophobic core and the external water medium.

Core-shell structured nanoparticles without and with drug loaded
Core-shell structured nanoparticles

However, it is challenging to make such nanoparticles in a controllable way with uniform size or a narrow size range which is a critical property of nanomedicine. We have developed a microfluidic reactor system which allows us to control the flow mixing and chemical compositions in a confined micro-environment, enabling the production of nanoparticles with a very well controlled size distribution in a continuous-flow format.

Associated research themes

Materials and surface engineering

Related research groups

Bioengineering Science
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