Nanotechnology Puts Drug Solubility Under the Microscope

Pharma IQ

One aspect of solubility which continues to get much attention is nanotechnology. The concept sees pharmaceutical firms work on a molecular scale in an effort to engineer the best possible formulation of drugs and ensure they can be absorbed fully by the human body.

According to a new report from Pharmavision founder Dr Cheryl Barton, the nanotechnology market is set to be worth over $13 billion (£9.05 billion) within the next eight years, as the number of products doubles and a new batch of nano-medicines begins to emerge. It is believed these so-called second-generation products, which are expected to create $2.9 billion in sales alone, will be linked to areas of unmet clinical need and help in the formulation of novel drugs which are less toxic and more effective than previous versions.

The study also hints at a few of the future applications that nanotechnology will be used for as it continues to grow in prominence, with work on tissue-specific delivery, controlled-release devices and bioavailability set to particularly benefit from the concept.

Professor Colin Barrow, chair in biotechnology at Deakin University, recently suggested that the latter issue has a closer relationship with nanotechnology than most.

He told the Deccan Herald: "It could be used to target cancer drugs to improve solubility so that the effect is provided to the system in a more even fashion. It could also be used to deliver drugs to the target organ."

The expert went on to explain that nanotechology has the potential to "strengthen" the pharmaceutical industry, adding: "It has been widely incorporated into biotechnology, especially in medical biosciences. These are pretty broader areas consisting of specific aspects of specialisations."

Microfluidics, which specialises in high shear fluid processors, has done much work in the area of nanotechnology. The company recently launched a formal collaboration program to promote its use in scientific research carried out at universities across the globe. It is hoped the initiative will ensure the best processing methods are available to a range of academics as they progress with drug-relation development studies.

Michael Ferrara, president and chief executive officer of Microfluidics, said trends in the industry have showcased how interest in nanotechnology seems to be rising. He said: "More big and mid-size pharmas are seeking to collaborate on vital research and development programs with universities equipped with the latest equipment for nanomaterials processing.

"From oncology drugs and vaccines to foods enhanced with nutrients and more efficient cathodes for fuel and solar cells, the line between academic research and industry commercialisation has been blurred."

The new initiative has been welcomed by Professor Robert Nicolosi of the University of Massachusetts Lowell's department of clinical laboratory and nutritional sciences. He said that working with Microfluidics' technology had
helped him and his team create new novel properties for pharmaceutical applications.

"As you reduce the particle size of your formulation containing the compound of interest, you increase its surface area, thereby improving bioavailability and efficacy and, as a result, reducing adverse side-effects by decreasing the required dose for effectiveness," he added.

It seems clear from all of the above that the future of nanotechnology looks rather bright. With interest and demand for such services growing at a significant rate, it appears that the area is set to be an important aspect of tackling drug solubility for many years to come. A lot of issues are key to the successful development of new pharmaceuticals, but it could be said that the popularity of nanotechnology proves that even the littlest things matter.