Nano & micro-delivery systems: the Pheroid story

A number of products in the pharmaceutical, cosmeceutical, nutritional and general supplement market have been identified by clients for formulation using Pheroid® technology.

A Pheroid® is a vesicle responsible for delivery, based on the Pheroid technology, and can be used to package without the need for sophisticated procedures and transfer molecules for a number of applications, such as medicines, lotions and creams, food supplements and cosmetics.


Figure: Pheroid
Clients represent different sectors and include both academia and the industry, from human health and wellness to animal-health vaccines and therapies. Both local and export markets are targeted.
Pheroid technology is used in various applications.

The main advantages of Pheroid are the maturity of the technology, the wide applicability of the technology in terms of the delivery of compounds of different chemical natures, the ability to customise the Pheroid to different modes of administration and the low cost and ease of manufacturing of the Pheroid.


Point-of-care diagnostics (POC)

  • Tuberculosis

South Africa has one of the highest rates of TB in the world, so it is fitting that the researchers at the PCDDP under Professor Anne Grobler are working on developing a way to rapidly diagnose TB in resource-poor settings.

Tuberculosis (TB), a treatable infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, is one of the world’s leading causes of infectious mortality. The diagnosis of infectious diseases in resource-poor settings poses additional challenges to tests that are performed in molecular diagnostics and pathology laboratories. In South Africa, the high prevalence of HIV cases co-infected with tuberculosis necessitates a fast, inexpensive diagnostic procedure in rural and clinic settings.

There are several diagnostic tests available. The biggest challenge is that they are not very accessible and they are very expensive. The conventional culture TB test takes between 14 days and six weeks. There is also a mobility issue.

The gold standards for diagnosis of tuberculosis and drug-resistance are GeneXpert, Ziehl-Neelsen (acid-fast) stains and cultures, but results can take as long as four weeks. Prof Grobler and her team are working on a diagnostic procedure that will give a TB diagnosis within an hour. It will also allow the direct initiation of pharmaceutical treatment if the diagnosis is positive, which should lead to a decrease in the spread of tuberculosis infection by patients returning home without the benefit of a diagnostic result.

Working together with the University of Nebraska we have come up with a unique lysis microreactor that is affordable, rapid and very sensitive. The diagnosis is based on the detection of genomic DNA unique to the micro bacterium Tuberculosis Complex (MTC). It was vital for tests to be affordable to ensure sustainable implementation. Our goal is to have a low-cost test, a timely one-hour and efficient 96% sensitivity TB diagnostic test suitable for rural clinics with further plans to develop a simple mobile unit.

The process consists of three steps, namely:

  • Lysis of the TB causative organisms;
  • Amplification of the specific region of the DNA of the TB organisms; and
  •  Visualisation of the amplified TB DNA.

The samples collected from the patients are firstly lysed. This lysis process is accomplished by thermal, mechanical and chemical needs in one step within ten minutes.

Treated sputum samples are done within 15 minutes. Finally, detection of the presence of the micro bacteria is done by running an electro-forensic detection method.


(A new way of TB diagnosis in South Africa)

Preclinical studies

(see Vivarium)

All studies performed in the preclinical platform are subject to approval by the registered ethical committees.  Studies used in drug development in the PCDDP is compliant with GLP.
Here are some of the services we deliver:

  • Pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic studies
  • Safety/tolerance studies
  • Behavioral studies
  • Efficacy models/ studies
  • Metabolism (enzymes, transporters, drug efflux)
  • Breeding
  • In vivo and in vitro toxicity evaluation
  • Whole body plethysmography and open filed mobility monitoring
  • Cardiovascular telemetry

Radiopharmaceuticals and Radiotracers

A radioactive tracer, or radioactive label, is a chemical compound in which one or more atoms have been replaced by a radioisotope so by virtue of its radioactive decay it can be used to form the basis of a variety of medical diagnostic imaging systems, such as, positron emission tomography (PET) and single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scans. Radioactive tracers can also be used in drug development research to investigate the biodistribution profiles of drugs and drug delivery vehicles.

Radiopharmaceuticals are drugs that carry a limited degree of radioactivity, and are usually used in nuclear medicine as an alternative to standard radiation for the treatment of certain cancers as well as a diagnostic tool to allow better internal imaging of certain organs and arteries using PET and SPECT scans.

Xenograft studies are currently performed in the PCDDP to evaluate cancer and other treatments.


(see Bioanalytical Laboratory)

Preclinical drug development research requires bioanalysis of biological samples.  A functional bioanalytical laboratory with LCMS/MS has been established and analysis of the blood samples of the first study (determination of tenofovir in blood samples) has been performed. The system and laboratory has been validated and is included in our application for GLP accreditation from SANAS.