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Start-Up Gains Drug Nanoparticle Manufacturing Tech

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(Public Domain Pictures, Pixabay)

13 Nov. 2020. A new enterprise spun-off from University of Connecticut is acquiring a technology for continuous manufacturing of nanoscale drug particles. Diant Pharma Inc., formed last year in Mansfield, Connecticut, is licensing the technology developed by two UConn researchers, also founders of the company.

Diant Pharma is the creation of pharmacy school faculty Diane Burgess and Antonio Costa, a research assistant professor in Burgess’s lab. The lab studies drug delivery processes, including nanoscale materials made into suspensions or emulsions for delivering therapeutic cargoes. Among the ways of delivering drugs with these methods is liposomes, tiny bubbles made from lipids or natural oils, with nanoscale drug molecule particles carried inside the bubbles.

Burgess and Costa took the idea further by designing techniques for manufacturing liposomes with nanoscale drug particles as a continuous process, a more efficient and economical production method than conventional manufacturing of drugs in discrete batches. Continuous manufacturing allows for longer high-volume production runs that process raw materials during the entire run, directly into the finished product. Batch processing, on the other hand, creates a predetermined quantity, often dictated by the size of the containers in the manufacturing plant.

Continuous manufacturing offers other advantages, say the researchers. The technology enables more fine tuning of production factors, such as particle size encased in liposomes. Also, this process usually takes up less physical space than batch processing, requiring a smaller footprint in valuable clean-room facilities.

In addition, says the UConn team, continuous manufacturing allows for continuous quality monitoring, with the ability to catch errors in near real time. “We’re continuously checking quality during the entire process,” says Costa, Diant Pharma’s CEO in a university statement. With batch manufacturing, however, discovery of an error can mean discarding the entire batch.

UConn received a patent on the technology earlier this year, with Burgess and Costa listed as inventors. The patent outlines systems and methods for continuous production of drugs formulated into liposomes. The document describes mixing lipids and organic solvents to create the injected solutions, sending the lipid-solvent solution to one injection port and a water-based solution to a second port, positioning the injection ports for producing liposomes, and mixing the lipid and water-based solutions to create liposomes.

Diant Pharma is licensing the intellectual property rights from UConn, but details of the agreement, including financial terms, were not disclosed. Burgess and Costa founded Diant Pharma last year to further develop and commercialize the technology for pharmaceutical customers, but also for food, beverage, cosmetics, and textile companies. The company says it can create liposomes with nanoparticles from 50 to 500 nanometers in size using ethanol solvents, at high speed while adjusting for concentrations and filtration.

The researchers believe Diant Pharma can fill a critical need for high-speed drug manufacturing of Covid-19 vaccines and therapies, as well as other drugs in short supply. “Our company is being launched at a time when the need for such technology is really being recognized,” notes Burgess adding, “If you use this kind of manufacturing you could reach more people much more quickly.”

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