Microrheology techniques for pharmaceutical research

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy


Drugs need to be formulated into medicines before they can be given to patients in a useful form. Injections are an important group of formulations and their viscoelasticity, that is, the ease in which the fluid can be deformed as it passes through the syringe, is an important consideration. However, bulk testing of the viscoelastic behaviour of injectables is often not feasible since they are available only in limited amounts. Here we will investigate new techniques in the field of microrheology, which have been demonstrated to measure the viscoelasticity of very small volumes of sample. The volumes that can be measured are so small that the technique can be applied to the measurement of the viscoelasticity of sub-cellular compartments such as the nucleus and mitochondria. Therefore, in addition to addressing the key issue of pharmaceutical formulation the work will also attempt to measure changes in the viscoelastic environment of a drug as it is internalised into a cell via a process known as endocytosis.

Technical Summary

Rheology is the scientific investigation of the viscoelasticity of a material i.e. the degree to which it displays solid and liquid behaviours. For samples of limited availability, or intracellular measurements, current bulk rheological techniques are of little use. Microrheology has obvious advantages in this respect and will be applied as a technique to address two important issues in pharmaceutical science: (1) the formulation of drugs for intravenous delivery and (2) viscoelastic properties of sub-cellular compartments and their relation to gene transfection. The discipline hopping award is an ideal mechanism to allow the lead applicant to explore these two issues in collaboration with a co-applicant experienced in the relevant fields within the pharmaceutical sciences.


10 25 50
Title depth resolved microrheology 
Description We measured the viscoelasticity of living bacterial films. 
Type Of Material Technology assay or reagent 
Year Produced 2008 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Lots of people are using the tracking software world wide for a range of biomedical research. 
Description Strathclyde pharmacy 
Organisation University of Strathclyde
Department Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy & Biomedical Sciences
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Manchester physics provided the instrumentation and Strathclyde provided the biological/medical know how.
Collaborator Contribution We have moved into a new, more medically important area with help from Strathclyde.
Impact We published an article in Langmuir.
Start Year 2007