Gene & Drug Delivery - Nanoparticle Characterization

Since 2007 NIS has successfully supported more than 2000 nanoparticle characterization projects for over 200 clients globally. This diverse set of samples have comprised numerous iterations of common delivery vehicles for biologics, nucleic acids and small molecules, including lipid nanoparticles, liposomes, Adeno Associated-Virus (AAV) and other viral vectors. 

Our extensive  cryoEM expertise, quick turnaround and reliable workflows make NIS the company of choice for such studies.

Advantages of CryoEM 
Commonly available analytical techniques may require lengthy analysis times and generate averaged information that do not necessarily correlate with observed outcomes. CryoEM, however, provides important structural details on a per-particle basis that cannot be captured by other methods, quickly visualizing individual particles in the size range of 50-500 nm. 

The images can be further analyzed to evaluate the particles shape, size and size distribution, morphology, and content (empty/full) When performed for several batches or preps, this analysis allows for defining correlations between micro- and macro-properties (such as aggregation, solubility, and stability) and can be used as a tool to evaluate the quality of a sample.

Delivery Sample Types
Each sample type presents unique challenges and underlying impetus for undertaking cryoEM imaging studies:

AAV and lentiviral vectors
These are the basis for several approved gene delivery therapies.  Nevertheless, many challenges remain, including understanding and preventing genotoxicity and immune responses, improving gene transfer or editing, and overcoming manufacturing and regulatory hurdles. CryoEM with single particle analysis also allows for high resolution structure determination of the viral capsid to support Structure-Based Vector Design (SBVD) providing improved targeting of the vector to the tissue/cell-type of interest and better avoidance of host immune responses through understanding vector recognition by neutralizing antibodies. 

Lipid based nanocarrier systems

Solid lipid nanoparticles, liposomes, polymeric nanoparticles and non-structured lipid carriers are often used as delivery and storage systems to improve biocompatibility and stability, and reduce toxicity of bioactive molecules.

Extracellular vesicles 

Exosomes have also been proposed as potential drug delivery vehicles. Qualitative and quantitative analysis of these nanoparticles (for example, size, shape, surface modification, load, lamellarity and encapsulation rate) can be very useful, as they may influence biological activity, biodistribution and toxicity and may help further development.


  • Bennett, A., Keravala, A., Makal, V., Kurian, J., Belbellaa, B., Aeran, R., Tseng, Y. S., Sousa, D., Spear, J., Gasmi, M., & Agbandje-McKenna, M. (2020). Structure comparison of the chimeric AAV2.7m8 vector with parental AAV2. Journal of Structural Biology, 209(2), 107433.
  • Rayamajhi, S., Marchitto, J., Nguyen, T. D. T., Marasini, R., Celia, C., & Aryal, S. (2020). pH-responsive cationic liposome for endosomal escape mediated drug delivery. Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces, 188, 110804.

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