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Picture of the Day

Liquid assembly line makes drug microparticles a thousand times faster than ever before

Pharmaceuticals owe their effects mostly to their chemical composition, but the packaging of these drugs into specific physical formulations also needs to be done to exact specifications. For example, many drugs are encapsulated in solid microparticles, the size and shape of which determine the timing of the drug's release and its delivery to specific parts of the body. When engineering these drug microparticles, consistency is key, but common drug manufacturing techniques, such as spray drying and ball milling, produce uneven results. The ideal method involves microfluidics, a kind of liquid assembly line that drips out perfectly sized microparticles, one at a time. National Science Foundation-funded engineers have now developed a microfluidic system where more than 10,000 of these devices run in parallel, all on a silicon and glass chip that can fit into a shirt pocket.

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