Continuously manufactured polymersomes by self-assembly

Published on April 27, 2016

At the beginning of this video we will show you two different batch methods for the formation of vesicles and their limitations which were adapted from the liposome preparation techniques. Compared to this, the next presentation of a continuous process for the production and in-situ loading of polymersomes illustrates the outstanding advantages of micro technology for nano engineering.


Polymersomes are the synthetic analogues to liposomes and a relatively new kind of soft nanoparticles, which have already shown great promise as drug carriers. They are composed of amphiphilic block copolymers instead of phospholipids like their natural counterparts. Due to the good synthetic control of polymer chemistry, polymersomes provide much more variability, stability and functionality than liposomes.
The formation of polymersomes by controlled self-assembly can be induced by transferring the block copolymer in a selective solvent, for example water. In this case hydrophobic parts will associate in order to prevent the unfavorable contact with water, while the hydrophilic blocks will face the inner and outer solution. Due to this association, polymersomes have the capability to load hydrophilic molecules as well as hydrophobic ones, which offers advantages over spherical polymer micelles. Nevertheless, the preparation and loading of polymer nanostructures is a challenging task since it must be a highly controllable and continuous process.

Maskos Group | Fraunhofer ICT-IMM, Mainz, Germany

Before Prof. Dr. Michael Maskos, graduate chemist, was appointed to head the Fraunhofer ICT-IMM as director in 2014, he had been working as CEO of the Institut für Mikrotechnik Mainz GmbH (IMM) for 3 years, before it was integrated into the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft in 2014. In 2000 he was awarded the Research Award of the Boehringer-Ingelheim Foundation. Afterwards he left Mainz for a year abroad within a research scholarship of the German Academy of Natural Scientists Leopoldina to work at the McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Back in Germany Maskos habilitated 2003 in physical chemistry. Afterwards he moved to Berlin where he took the lead of the Division Durability of Polymers at the Federal Institute of Materials Research and Testing (BAM). During this period he also graduated from the Helmholtz-Academy of Young Researchers in Scientific Management. Two years later he was appointed as a W3-professor at the Johannes Gutenberg-University in the field of Chemical Process Engineering and Microfluidics, and also became CEO of the IMM. In 2015 Maskos won the Literature Prize of the Chemical Industry for the textbook “Polymers: Synthesis, Characteristics and Applications”.

Dr. Regina Bleul graduated with her PhD on the topic of the formation, characterization and functionalization of polymeric nanoparticles and their interactions with biological systems from the FU Berlin in 2014. Since then she has been working as a junior scientist in the area of nanopharmaceuticals at the Fraunhofer ICT-IMM.

Sibylle von Bomhard is a PhD student in the group of Michael Maskos. Her focus is on the process development for the continuous formation of polymer based nanoparticles including downstream processing.

Dr. Raphael Thiermann received his PhD on the subject of self-organisation of amphiphilic block copolymer in micromixers in 2014. Afterwards he moved to the Fraunhofer ICT-IMM where his research is focused on the manufacturing and characterization of nanoparticles.

Clara Bröckelmann was a master student in the group of Michael Maskos before she started her trainee teacher in November 2015.


Bleul, R., Thiermann, R., Marten, G.U., House, M.J., St. Pierre, T.G., Häfeli, U.O., Maskos, M.: Continuously manufactured magnetic polymersomes – a versatile tool (not only) for targeted cancer therapy,
Nanoscale 2013, 5 11385–11393

Bleul, R., Thiermann, R., Maskos, M.: Techniques To Control Polymersome Size,
Macromolecules 2015, 48 (20) 7396-7409

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