Professor Edward Hæggström’s materials physics research group at the University of Helsinki has developed a method to shrink a drug particle without changing its chemical properties. The researchers have dubbed the process “nanonization”.

 “Simply put, it is a method which shrinks groups of molecules, or particles, without changing their chemical properties,” says Professor Edward Haeggström.

The method can help make drugs more effective: smaller particles dissolve easier and are more likely to fit into their exact target.

It is likely that more applications for nanonization will also be found, but Haeggström is not yet ready to talk about them.

 “We’ll start with one application. We can later start thinking about others.”

Jouko Yliruusi, professor of pharmaceutical chemistry, invented the idea of “shrinking” drug particles. To put the idea into practice, Yliruusi presented it to Hæggström to consult his expertise on materials physics. That was the beginning of a cooperation which has now lasted more than ten years, and has led to the creation of the Nanoform Finland Ltd. start-up which offers nanonization services.


Putting the fruits of research to use

 “I think this is a good demonstration of what the University community is capable of. We had the idea, the professional people to work on it and the opportunity to try different approaches,” says Professor Hæggström.

Developing an idea into a product that can be patented and that can be the basis of a business is not simple, and far from inexpensive. Helsinki Innovation Services (HIS) offered its expert help, and Tekes joined the project as a funder.

Professor Hæggström feels that it is a natural step to develop innovations from academic research into commercial products to benefit society. He does not think patenting infringes on the openness of research.

 “The patent process meant that we had to delay the publishing of our research results somewhat, but it wasn’t really a problem.”



 IMAGE: Fitted mean plasma concentration–time profile of Piroxicam in female Sprague-Dawley (SD) ratsBioavailability of nanonized Piroxicam (Group 1) is better compared to standard drug (Group 3) and bulk raw material (Group 2).Piroxicam (painkiller) has long half-life and slow absorption. Our animal tests confirm the results of our in vitro tests carried out with instrumentation developed and patented by Nanoform.