Revolutionary Technique Allows for More Efficient Coatings of Biologically Active Materials

Revolutionary Technique Allows for More Efficient Coatings of Biologically Active Materials

Rutgers University scientists have recently introduced a groundbreaking method for creating coatings of biologically active materials that has the potential to transform the field of medicine. In a study published in Nature Communications, the researchers showcase their innovative approach to electrospray deposition, an industrial spray-coating process. By enhancing control over the target region within the spray zone and the electrical properties of microscopic particles, the team has vastly improved the accuracy and efficiency of the coating process. This breakthrough technique opens the door to a new era of transdermal medication, including virtually painless vaccinations and a wide range of medical products.

Traditional electrospray deposition has been considered an efficient method for creating coatings. However, its application has been restricted when it comes to targets smaller than the spray itself, such as microneedle arrays in transdermal patches. Conventional methods only achieve approximately 40% efficiency, resulting in a significant amount of wasted materials. Recognizing this limitation, the Rutgers researchers embarked on advanced engineering techniques to develop a more precise and effective approach.

Led by Jonathan Singer, an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, the team has successfully achieved efficiencies that are statistically indistinguishable from 100%. They have refined the electrospray deposition process to ensure that the majority of the spray hits its microscopic target. By applying a high voltage to a flowing liquid, such as a biopharmaceutical, the liquid is converted into fine particles. As these droplets travel to the target area, they evaporate and deposit a solid precipitate. This newfound control and precision enable the researchers to drastically reduce material waste and maximize the effectiveness of the coating.

Coatings play a crucial role in various medical applications, particularly in the development of medical devices implanted in the body, such as stents, defibrillators, and pacemakers. Additionally, coatings are becoming increasingly important in the realm of bioactive products, like transdermal patches. These advanced biological materials, including drugs and vaccines, come at a significant cost. Any wastage of these valuable resources can severely limit patients’ access to essential treatments. The Rutgers team recognized the potential of electrospray deposition to minimize wastage and make the production of medical devices using bioactive materials more economically viable.

The ability to achieve 100% efficiency in the electrospray deposition process would eliminate material wastage entirely, making it an ideal method for coating devices and vaccines. Sarah Park, a doctoral student in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and first author of the study, anticipates that future research will expand the range of compatible materials and optimize the material delivery rate. These advancements would further enhance the technique’s efficiency and make it even more appealing for mass manufacturing in the medical field.

Unlike other coating techniques commonly used in manufacturing, such as dip coating and inkjet printing, the new electrospray deposition technique is classified as “far field.” This distinction means that it does not require highly accurate positioning of the spray source, making the equipment necessary for mass manufacturing more affordable and easier to design. The implementation of this technique has the potential to revolutionize the production of medical devices, allowing for more efficient and cost-effective manufacturing processes.

The research conducted at Rutgers University involved a team of scientists from various disciplines. Alongside Jonathan Singer and Sarah Park, professors Jerry Shan, Hao Lin, David Shreiber, and Jeffrey Zahn contributed their expertise. Former doctoral students Lin Lei and Emran Lallow, as well as former undergraduate student Darrel D’Souza, played integral roles in the study. The collaborative efforts of these researchers in the Departments of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering, have resulted in a groundbreaking advancement in the field of medical coatings.

The Rutgers University scientists have revolutionized the field of medical coatings with their highly accurate method of electrospray deposition. Their ability to achieve efficiencies comparable to 100% sets the stage for a new era of transdermal medication, including painless vaccinations and enhanced medical devices. With the potential to minimize wastage and increase accessibility, this groundbreaking technique has the power to transform the production of medical products and improve patient outcomes.


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