The discovery of nanoparticles and the advent of nanoparticle study as a science had its beginnings in the 1980s. In the past two decades, the science of nanoparticles has made major advances in particle-type production and in nanoparticle application in all areas of the life sciences. The most rapid advances have been made in the application of nanoparticles in drug research and development, product formulation, and in the development of novel drug-delivery systems using specific nanoparticle carriers. This rapid incorporation of nanoparticles species into the, formulation, pilot studies, and production of drug products has given rise to the need for rapid and accurate nanoparticle analytical instrumentation. This equipment is necessary for determining the size, shape, and characteristics of particle materials in the nanometer-size range.
The range of sizes of nanoparticles used in the life sciences and biomedical applications is 10 nm to 100 nm in diameter. Developing particles from various starting materials that remain stable in this size range has become one of the fastest-growing and potentially useful emerging technologies of the last several decades.
The nanoparticles used in the life sciences and medicine can be composed of a variety of materials. These include:
- Lipids (liposomes)
- Polysaccharides (chitosan and alginate)
- Polymers of poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) [PLGA] or polystyrene
- Optison (liquid perfluorocarbon)
- Superparamagnetic iron-oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs)
- Natural biomacromolecules (DNA, RNA, proteins)
The requirements for the production and type of nanoparticle structure formed by each material depend on the method of synthesis and the physical conditions employed. Physical conditions include temperature, pressure, length of time exposed, and the presence or absence of supporting (catalytic) materials. While the size of a particle is of critical importance, the shape of the particle is also extremely important for a specific particle to perform its biological function (e.g., transporting a chemotherapy drug to the site of a specific tumor-cell type).
The need for the tightly controlled size parameter in nanoparticle preparation has demanded more precise analytical equipment for analyzing particle size. The use of the particles in areas such as drug research and development and drug production also has increased the need for faster speed in the analysis of particles. This is especially true for the analysis of quality-control samples in which out-of-specification particles can shut down a production line. The major emphasis of instrument companies in this market has been to develop more accurate, rapid instruments with a smaller lab-bench footprint. The latter is true because QC laboratories and R&D laboratories are usually crowded for equipment space. In the production area, samples may need to be analyzed at the actual site of production, also emphasizing the need for the equipment parameters above.
The above is an extract from the BCC Research report, Global Markets for Nanoparticle Size Analysis Instrumentation in the Life Sciences (Report Code: BIO114A). To download the complimentary first chapter, please click on the above link provided.