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Droplet-Based Production of Liposomes

A process for making monodisperse liposomes having lipid bilayer membranes involves fewer, simpler process steps than do related prior methods. First, a microfluidic, cross-junction droplet generator is used to produce vesicles comprising aqueous-solution droplets contained in single-layer lipid membranes. The vesicles are collected in a lipid-solvent mix that is at most partially soluble in water and is less dense than is water. A layer of water is dispensed on top of the solvent. By virtue of the difference in densities, the water sinks to the bottom and the solvent floats to the top. The vesicles, which have almost the same density as that of water, become exchanged into the water instead of floating to the top. As there are excess lipids in the solvent solution, in order for the vesicles to remain in the water, the addition of a second lipid layer to each vesicle is energetically favored.

The resulting lipid bilayers present the hydrophilic ends of the lipid molecules to both the inner and outer membrane surfaces. If lipids of a second kind are dissolved in the solvent in sufficient excess before use, then asymmetric liposomes may be formed.

This work was done by Donald E. Ackley and Anita Forster of Nanotrope, Inc. for Johnson Space Center. For further information, contact the JSC Innovation Partnerships Office at (281) 483-3809.

In accordance with Public Law 96-517, the contractor has elected to retain title to this invention. Inquiries concerning rights for its commercial use should be addressed to:

Nanotrope Inc.
3030 Bunker Hill St
San Diego, CA 92109
Phone No.: (858) 270-7992

Refer to MSC-24302-1, volume and number of this NASA Tech Briefs issue, and the page number.