Exploitation of a novel multi-stage electrohydrodynamic device for the manufacture of therapeutic products

Lead Research Organisation: University College London


Porous particles, fine bubbles and hollow capsules are important vehicles for effective agents for the treatment of illnesses such as cancer and their reliable and commercially successful mass production is a hot topic. This is because it directly governs the progress of medical imaging and therapeutics for advancing the frontiers of research for improved healthcare. At UCL we have invented new multi-needle, multi-stage electrically-driven devices which can operate simply using applied voltage and flow rate control. These devices, already patented and the work was awarded the 2010 Venture Prize (£25k), are robust and economical and products are made in high yield (several millions a minute). The products are also better controlled and can be made to have unique structural compartments which allow special therapeutic benefits. The work in this follow-on project will concentrate on specific products and process variables so that characterised marketable products can be made in large quantities and their manufacture exploited by putting together a business plan, marketing and licensing opportunities.

Planned Impact

This work will make a significant impact on society as its central feature is healthcare. With the average age expectancy of human beings increasing dramatically, the health services have to look at the cost and effectiveness of treatment. In many instances, it is not the lack of drugs that impairs or even hinders treatment but the lack of effective carriers to deliver the drugs. This project actually makes reliable and unique products that helps to improve therapeutics. The manufacturing process identified is economical in terms of both equipment and products, while quality control is tight. The nature of the patented methodology, which will allow UK to dominate this area, is such that incorporation of additional agents e.g. for targeting and/or therapeutic monitoring under increasingly used monitoring technology used in modern hospitals (e.g. ultrasound) can be easily achieved. This combined with the inclusion of the active pharmaceutical ingredients with control over its release will assist in minimising unwanted side effects and also the dose required and hence wastage, leading to improved clinical outcomes. From an economic perspective, there are also significant benefits from the production of a new carriers for drugs as this offers the potential both for utilising agents which cannot currently be administered e.g. due to the high toxicity. The highly versatile nature of the technique in terms of the wide range of structures that can be prepared and the fact that only a single processing step is required also makes it very attractive. Identifying the specific applications and materials to be encapsulated will form part of the proposed work involving a rigorous analysis of the technical, clinical and economic factors involved.

This work will also impact on training the next generation of scientists and technologists who will work in our healthcare industry and hospitals. While carrying out the research on the exploitation of our patented technology will help to train a specific doctoral scientist, the discussion of this work, both in a technological and a business sense will help other postgraduates (following our biomedical engineering masters courses), other UK scientists and technologists (through our events, in particular our frequent symposia and workshops), school children (through our outreach activities carried out throughout the year and in the summer holidays) and the general public (through our public lectures and web-based communication and knowledge transfer).

This work will make a big impact on the UK industry and we are serious in exploiting this technology via our already established spin-off company (AtoCap Ltd) and by pursuing suitable licensing opportunities with exsisting small companies and other international large establishments.


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Description The feasibility of using an electrically-driven jetting process with multi-needle devices to prepare nearly same size, spherical, layered fine particles and layered fibres. Creating four layers in this way is very new and IP has been protected by UCL-Business and the work has led to a spin-off company AtoCap Ltd.(see URL below) and more research grant funding. It is now moving forward to realise its first product, trademarked CAPFURAN.
CAPFURAN is patented and has been produced under GMP facilities and is now awaiting a clinical trial.
Exploitation Route For economic growth (manufacturing, innovation), healthcare, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. Via spin-off company AtoCap Ltd. and core-patent.

Via a new EPSRC grant for a multi-disciplinary project (EP/L026287/1 ) which started in September 2014.This has also proved the effectiveness of this strategy and we have been able to very reproducible cancer drug cisplatin loaded nanoparticles and prove their biological effectiveness. This work has already now matured and its achievements will be described by Prof Jonathan Knowles, PI of EP/L026287/1 . Many other journal publications and doctoral research has resulted.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Chemicals,Creative Economy,Education,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

URL https://atocap.co.uk/
Description Used to generate commercially viable processes, create a spin-off comapny and win further funding from EPSRC for a multi-disciplinary project (EP/L026287/1 ) on anti-cancer drugs which started in September 2014. This work is progressing very well and outputs under EP/L026287/1 are now mature and will be updated by the PI of this grant Prof Jonathan Knowles. See: https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlepdf/2020/na/c9na00684b
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Chemicals,Creative Economy,Education,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology
Impact Types Societal,Economic

Description EPSRC Responsive Mode
Amount £1,050,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/L025825/1 and EP/L026287/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2014 
End 08/2017
Description A layered body comprising: a core region; at least one intermediate layer disposed around the core region; and an outer layer disposed around the at least one intermediate layer, wherein at least one of the at least one intermediate layers comprises a gas, the layered body having at least one dimension, measured across the body and through the core region, of 100 µm or less. 
IP Reference WO2012107760 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2012
Licensed Commercial In Confidence
Impact Winning of the Venture Prize in 2010 and setting up of spin-off company AtoCap Ltd. UCL-Business is also protecting this technology worldwide and company AtoCap has just received its first tranche of private funding from investors to make drug delivery capsules for urinary tract infections.