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Nanoparticles: Trojan Horse for APIs

Having a look at the number of publications dealing with nanoparticles, it is obvious, that this subject is of great interest. In the field of biology and medical research only 380 articles about nano scale substances have been published in the year 2000. But last year 25 times as many articles appeared*. This year this trend is continuing. Including August 2010 already 7343 new scientific reports referring to nanotechnology were released.

Fields of application

The most important benefit of nanoparticles in medicine is their size. Unlike traditional methods of drug administration, they are so tiny that they can penetrate all parts of the body and are able to release active substances or accumulate to the surrounding. In medicine, nanostructures

are smaller than 1 micrometer (10-6m). Continuous research and development work set up new fields of application. According to our current state of knowledge, the applications are not only limited to drug-delivery-systems. Instead you can also find them in the following areas :

  • Drug targeting
  • Therapies with nanostructures
  • In-vivo and in-vitro diagnostics and
  • Implants.

AdvantagesHMC 0309 008

To be able to deliver and release active pharmaceutical ingredients to a defined location nanoparticles have the following advantages:

1.    Since the APIs are transported directly to the place where they are needed, they do not or affect less healthy tissue.
2.    Over-medication due to unspecific dosage forms can be prevented which also leads to a reduction of side effects.
3.    To obtain at least equal results, the concentration of active ingredients can be decreased.

Concerns about nanoparticles

In medicine nanoparticles offer a great potential. But nanotechnology also conceals risks. In contrast to chitosan, which is degraded by the body, other nanoparticles might accumulate in men, animals, plants or soil and may induce negative consequences. Therefore, the Federal Environment Office advices to wait for reliable research cognitions before using nanoparticles. However, general statements about nanoparticles cannot be given, since they can be manufactured from different materials.

The application of biodegradable particles might avoid these risks. The basic module of chitosan is glucosamine, which is also part of the human body. Therefore, chitosan is regarded as naturally in the body and will be residue-free degraded.

Drug-Targeting and Chitosan nanoparticles

Drug-targeting can be achieved by different carrier systems. Nanoparticles are one of them. It is a so-called fixed carrier system because the nanoparticles consist of a firm particle matrix.   
Chitosan also forms nanoparticles. They are able to bind drugs on their surface. After crossing barriers in the body, they then release the active ingredients. Since chitosan is biodegradable it suits very well for human and veterinary uses. So far, scientists tested the use of chitosan nanoparticles as carrier system in the fields of the following applications:

  • Targeted abatement of cancer cells
  • Carrier for insulin to be delivered by the nasal mucosa
  • Transmitter of vaccines
  • Carrier for gene, lipids or protein.

HMC+ and chitosan-nanoparticles

The HMC+ experts have processed their own research project with chitosan nanoparticles.

Through own research projects with chitosan nanoparticles, they convinced themselves how enormous the capabilities of the tiniest chitosan are.

To profit from our know-how, please do not hesitate and send us your This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


  • Müller, R. S./Langer, K.: Nanopartikel bringen Arzneistoffe sicher ans Ziel. In: Pharmazeutische Zeitung, 4, 2009.
  • (Nanopartikel)

*The data was collated through (search criteria: nanoparticles or nano or nanoparticles).

drug delivery, chitosan, nanoparticles, implants, drug targeting

  • Created on .

Congress and fairs

Meet us in person 2024:

  • 14th PBP World Meeting/ Research Pharm, Vienna, Austria, 18.-21.03.2024
  • EPNOE Workshop on Analytics of Polysaccharides, ETH Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland, 25.-26.06.2024
  • CPHI, Milan, Italy, 08.-10.10.2024
  • MEDICA 2024, Düsseldorf, Germany, 11.-14.11.2024

To arrange an appointment please contact Katja Richter via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


  • Heppe Medical Chitosan GmbH
    Heinrich-Damerow-Strasse 1
    06120 Halle (Saale)
  • Tel.: +49 (0) 345 27 996 300
    Fax: +49 (0) 345 27 996 378
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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