• loading



What are nanoparticles?

Nanoparticles are small particles with a size between 1 and 100 nanometers. One nanometer corresponds to one millionth of a millimeter. For comparison, that’s about 80,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. This is so tiny that the particles cannot be seen under a normal microscope. Nanoparticles can be made from a variety of materials (metals, semiconductors, polymers and organic compounds) and are used in a wide range of applications, including medicine, electronics, cosmetics, food, energy and the environment. Due to their size, nanoparticles have a high surface-to-volume ratio, which makes their chemical and physical properties significantly different from those of solids or larger particles of the same material. Among other things, this can be reflected in higher reactivity or a change in optical and magnetic properties. Furthermore, due to their small size, nanoparticles can more easily cross some body barriers, disperse throughout the body, and penetrate biological cells, making them particularly interesting as nanotransporters for medical applications.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, lipid nanoparticles in particular made headlines for their critical role in helping to contain the pandemic by acting as protective shells for labile RNA agents. Lipid nanoparticles, as the name suggests, are made from lipids. Phospholipids, cholesterol and fatty acids, among others, are used here. Depending on their size and composition, the nanoparticles can have different properties. They are often used as carriers for active ingredients, vaccines and genome-based therapies. Here, the particles serve on the one hand as a protective shell for the encapsulated active ingredient and on the other hand as a means of transport to deliver it specifically to its site of action. The targeted and long-term release of active ingredients can increase their efficacy on the one hand and reduce their side effects on the other. In addition to the encapsulation and transport of classical drugs, current research in the field of lipid nanoparticles is particularly focused on the encapsulation of RNA-based drugs, as used in mRNA vaccines against COVID-19. As this technology represents a promising therapeutic approach against cancer and infectious diseases.



The illustrations on the right are highly simplified for the sake of clarity.  For a detailed view we recommend the relevant literature, for example  Lopes et al. (2022) or Żak et al. (2021)

❶ Phospholipid
❷ Active ingredient

Formation of lipid nanoparticles for drug production.

Drugs encapsulated in lipid nanoparticles are a relatively new and very promising therapeutic approach. The production of lipid nanoparticles is an interesting process and is still under intense scientific investigation (e.g. Maeki et al. 2017, Guevara et al. 2020). In simplified terms, it is as follows:

The actual active ingredient is added to the system for encapsulation. In the case of mRNA, this is a solution consisting of mRNA dissolved in an acidic aqueous buffer solution.

The shell of the lipid nanoparticle is produced by a lipid mixture. This consists of an ionizable cationic lipid, cholesterol, helper lipids and pegylated lipids dissolved in ethanol.

The drug solution ① excited to oscillation by the OsciJet nozzle impinges on the lipid mixture ②, resulting in rapid mixing of the two solutions. The acidic pH of the mRNA solution causes protonation of the ionizable lipids, which then electrostatically interact with and rearrange the negatively charged mRNA. At the same time, the rapid change in polarity of the solution causes the solubility of the lipids to change and they assemble into ordered structures and form nanoparticles .

Your Point Contact. Our Specialist.

Do you have questions about our products? Contact us, we will be happy to advise you!

Cookie Consent with Real Cookie Banner