European researchers have developed two methods for separating and transporting tiny amounts of dry powders in microfluidic chips


Producing new drugs is slow and increasingly needs to be speeded up to match the rate of drug development. This is particularly true of powder handling processes, which often only have a tiny amount of the synthesised drug available. Miniaturisation of powder handling is therefore desirable.

Now, Andreas Manz from ISAS, Germany, together with colleagues at Imperial College London and Pfizer, UK, has been working on two techniques to manipulate powders. These techniques, termed fluidised bed injection and pulsed injection, could be integrated in a chip-based system for mixing dry powders on a small scale.

The team suggests the system could be used as an automated alternative to time-consuming manual weighing. Future work will look at approaches that can handle both dry and cohesive powders, because most drug excipients are cohesive.

Rowena Milan