Nanospinning Ultra-fine Fibres at WADDP

Nanospinning Ultra-fine Fibres at WADDP

The innovative and highly dynamic Wits Advanced Drug Delivery Platform (WADDP) Research Unit has already been accredited with several superior patented technologies. The Unit, assigned with the development of commercialisable drug delivery technologies, serves an integral role in the countries drug delivery research. When they recently acquired a new specialised electrospinning instrument, the first of its kind in SA from scientific company Labotec, Debbie Shaw from the company spoke to Professor Viness Pillay who heads WADDP Research Unit located at WITS Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology about this investment, and its enormous applicability in nanobiomedicine, and how this will contribute towards the quality of research in electrospun nanofibres currently underway at WADDP.

Can you tell us more about the purpose and mission of the Wits Advanced Drug Delivery Platform?
The Wits Advanced Drug Delivery Platform (WADDP) Research Unit has six well-regulated drug delivery laboratories (DDL1-6) that are fully equipped with world-class formulation and analytical equipment. The WADDP is well known for excellence in drug delivery research in South Africa and Africa, with a dynamic foundation for postgraduate scientific training and innovation in drug delivery. The team is involved in the development of new, intelligent, drug delivery formulations, for delivering drugs and other biomolecules that have numerous attractive properties, but are often associated with one or more less desirable characteristics, such as poor bioavailability. Being the only unit in its domain in South Africa, the WADDP has a mission informed by the South African government’s biotechnology strategy and intends to maintain and further enhance its position as a leading unit by sustaining globally competitive standards of excellence in drug delivery and pharmaceutical biomaterials research.

For which applications will the new Inovenso NanoSpinner from Labotec be used, and enlighten us more on its applicability in nanobiomedicine?
Being a specialised electrospinning instrument, the NanoSpinner24 will be used for producing polymeric ultra-fine fibres with diameters in the nano-, meso-, and micro-range. The fibres so formed are characterized by very high specific surface area, small diameter and large porosity. This produces fibres with a high surface area to weight ratio and surface area to volume ratio. NanoSpinner24 has shown an enormous applicability in nanobiomedicine over existing electrospinners used for fabrication of various nano-fibrous and –particulate drug delivery matrices as well as in tissue engineering archetypes. Nanospinner24 can enable researchers exploring electrospun nanofibres and electrosprayed nanoparticles to easily conduct their research for a prolonged period (24 hours) with a stable electro-spinning and -spraying process. Additionally, all processing parameters can be controlled automatically while electrospinning in progress providing much needed flexibility and development of multifunctional nanoconstructs.

How does this fit into the existing set-up, and what difference does it make?
The Nanospinner complements the other nanotechnology-based equipment currently in our laboratories such as the Maran-iP In Vitro Imager, Vevo 2100® Imaging System, nanoTensileTM 5000 and ZetaSizer NanoZS. The Nanospinner provides tremendous benefit for all our nanofibre, nano-wire and nanofilament applications. Furthermore, it is a fitting addition to the research activities/projects within the WADDP as we are immensely involved in nanomaterials-related research. This would allow our researchers to publish our work internationally and also attend conferences with scientists from leading polymer, drug delivery and nanotechnology research groups of national and international standing that are actively engaged in multidisciplinary basic and applied research in terms of nanostructure synthesis, processing, physicomechanical testing and applications for drug delivery.

Can you tell us about the future projects at WADDP that are envisioned where intelligent nanotechnologies can be used to produce polymeric ultra-fine fibres?

Broad future project themes of the WADDP in which the Nanospinner could be applied include:

• Engineering designer biomaterial archetypes for customised bioactive release and effective tissue repair, regeneration and reconstruction.
• Effective Repair and Regeneration of Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury using Novel Functionalised Polymer-Engineered NeuroMimetic Bioactive Devices
• Intercalated-pristine polymer composites for the controlled release of bioactives in treating peripheral nerve injury
• Nose-to-brain neurotherapeutic interventions
• Inflammatory dependent bioresponsive smart transdermal delivery system incorporating suspended fibrous mats as a platform for wound healing
• Implantable Antineoplastic-Loaded Antibody Functionalised Nanomicelles Embedded in a Hydrogel Scaffold for Localised Cancer Cell Targeting
• Design and Development of Neuro-Durable Scaffold Devices for the Treatment of Neuro-cognitive and -degenerative Disorders

For more information contact Professor Viness Pillay, University of the Witwatersrand, Wits Advanced Drug Delivery Platform on email : or website :

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