Scientists at Rutgers University have unlocked the door to a groundbreaking innovation in the realm of medical devices. With a remarkable process for producing biologically active compound bioactive coatings, this cutting-edge technology holds the potential to usher in a new era of transdermal treatments, including painless vaccines.
In a remarkable feat detailed in Nature Communications, researchers have unveiled a novel technique for electrospray deposition, a crucial industrial spray-coating process. The Rutgers team has ingeniously devised a method to finely tune the target region within the spray zone, alongside enhancing the electrical properties of minute particles during the deposition. This newfound control over these twin facets significantly heightens the precision of the spray’s impact on its microscopic objective.
Electrospray deposition is a technique wherein a high voltage is applied to a flowing liquid, effectively transforming it into minute particles. As these droplets travel to their designated area, they evaporate, leaving behind a solid precipitate. While the efficiency of this method is well-acknowledged, it previously faced limitations when dealing with targets smaller than the spray itself. However, thanks to pioneering engineering techniques, the Rutgers team has achieved efficiencies practically on par with 100 percent.
The significance of coatings in the medical sphere cannot be overstated. They find application on implanted medical devices like stents, pacemakers, and defibrillators. Moreover, these coatings are progressively finding their way into novel products utilizing bioactives, such as transdermal patches.
The implications of enhanced efficiency are far-reaching. Bioactive materials, encompassing drugs and vaccines, come at a substantial cost, especially when any material is wasted. The breakthrough lies in the transformation of electrospray deposition from an established analytical chemistry method into an efficient tool for crafting biomedically active coatings. The ultimate goal: enabling devices and vaccines to be coated with zero wastage.
Sarah Park, a doctoral student in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, the first author of the paper, emphasized that “depositing with 100 percent efficiency means none of the material would be wasted, allowing devices or vaccines to be coated in this way.” The anticipation is that ongoing research will expand the range of compatible materials and the delivery rate of this high-efficiency approach.
Unlike conventional manufacturing coating techniques like dip coating and inkjet printing, the newfound electrospray deposition technique operates in the “far field.” This characteristic eliminates the need for pinpoint accuracy in the positioning of the spray source, making the equipment for mass manufacturing more cost-effective and simpler to design.
The collaborative efforts of multiple Rutgers scientists have yielded this transformative innovation. With professors and students spanning departments from Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering to Biomedical Engineering, this achievement has been propelled by a convergence of expertise. This pioneering work has been supported by GeneOne Life Science, Inc., and serves as a beacon illuminating the path toward a future where medical coatings and treatments are more efficient and accessible than ever before.