Delivery under pressure – Nano Argovia project ForMel explores mechanosensitive liposomes

In the Nano Argovia project ForMeL, a research team is developing liposomes that can be loaded with pharmaceutical agents which are subsequently released in response to changes in pressure. Mechanoresponsive liposomes of this kind could be used to directly target blood clots in vessels affected by arteriosclerotic narrowing, dissolving them without the need to flood the patient’s entire body with anticoagulants.

The production and formulation of liposomes is initially being examined on the laboratory scale. Later, the results will be applied on the pilot scale so that material can be produced for the first preclinical trials. (Images: FHNW)

Narrowing of a blood vessel – caused by sclerotic deposits, for instance – can increase the shear forces exerted on solids in the bloodstream by at least an order of magnitude. It is possible to manufacture synthetic lipid membrane vesicles (liposomes) that break apart when subjected to these increased shear forces. The company Acthera Therapeutics hopes to exploit this principle to develop a procedure for delivering pharmaceutical agents directly to the narrowed area.

A diverse team
Under the coordination of Professor Oliver Germershaus (FHNW), industry partner Acthera Therapeutics AG in Basel is working closely with researchers from the School of Life Sciences (FHNW) and the ANAXAM Technology Transfer Center in pursuit of this goal.

For now, the team is conducting additional research on the production and formulation of the liposomes at laboratory scale. This includes developing analytic methods that can be used to characterize the liposomes, and optimizing the process of loading them with an appropriate agent.

To ensure problem-free storage of the manufactured liposomes, the researchers are developing a freeze-drying process. In a subsequent stage, every step in the production, formulation and freeze-drying will be extrapolated to the pilot scale to enable production of material for the first preclinical trials.

The combined expertise of the various project partners paves the way for efficient further development of mechanoresponsive liposomes with a view to successful preclinical development.


“For a recently formed start-up like ours, the Nano Argovia program is an ideal opportunity to create the technical prerequisites for preclinical and clinical testing of mechanoresponsive liposomes.”

Dr. Andreas Zumbühl, Chief Scientific Officer, Acthera Therapeutics AG (Basel)


Further information:

Acthera Therapeutics AG
FHNW School of Life Sciences