Many experts recognise Caleva as a leading manufacturer in extrusion and spheronization equipment for the development of pharmaceutical formulations, catalysts and ceramics. However, the broard scope and flexibility of Caleva equipment provides diverse capabilities that is leading to emerging applications in implant manufacture and conservation science. To explain more, we caught up with Dr Anton Blencowe at the University of South Australia, who’s research group is developing technologies for pest control and animal reintroductions.
“Australia has a unique biodiversity that is being threatened by introduced species, including foxes and feral cats. Since European settlement, there has been numerous extinction events and many more species are endangered. To combat this problem, there have been extensive efforts to control pests and establish reintroduction programs, however, feral cats remain a major issue. Feral cats have a preference for live food and therefore, rarely take poison baits, making it difficult to control their numbers. This is particularly problematic for reintroduction programs. When native animals are reintroduced to new areas they are naïve, and easy targets for feral cats. As feral cats have a tendency to continuously prey on a particular species, one feral cat can have a devastating impact on the reintroduced population.”
“To tackle this problem, we have been working with conservation and biodiversity experts to develop a novel implant technology that aims to protect the reintroduced population from these repeat offenders. The rod-shaped implants are about the size as a grain of rice, and are injected under the skin of the native animals prior to their release into the wild (Figure 1). The implants have a multilayered structure consisting of a poison core and protective coating. When injected under the skin of the native animal, the coating prevents release of the poison from the implant. However, if the animal is attacked and eaten by a feral cat the implant is exposed to the stomach acid, which causes release of the poison and kills the cat. This process ensures that the cat is killed at the very first instance it attacks a native animal and prevents it from killing any other members of the reintroduced population.”
Figure 1: Picture showing the implant (purple rod) next to an animal tagging microchip (1.4 mm diameter and 8 mm length) and Australian dollar coin. At the rear of the picture is the trocar injection syringe used to inject the microchip and implant via a simple and minimally invasive injection under the skin.
“The Caleva Mini Coater and Drier (Figure 2) has transformed our implant manufacturing process and, for the first time, allowed us to make standardised batches of implants. Previously we were making the implants by hand, a labour-intensive process that limited our production capacity to three implants a day, and resulted in significant implant-to implant variability. Although the demand for such implants is not huge, it was imperative that we could manufacture batches of identical implants with consistent performance. With its low capacity and high operational flexibility, the Caleva Mini Fluidised-bed Spray Coater has enabled us to easy trial different formulations and coating parameters to optimise our manufacture process. We are now able to produce hundreds of implants in a single batch (Figure 3), with excellent implant-to-implant and batch-to-batch consistency and performance.”
Figure 2: Picture of the Caleva Mini Coater and Drier being used to manufacture the implants. “Operation of the instrument is very straightforward, but at the same time provides the capabilities to adjust a range of parameters to optimise the coating process. Given the ease of use and wide range of applications, we intend to incorporate its use into undergraduate teaching for the pharmacy students in the near future.”
Figure 3: Picture of a batch of implants manufactured using the Caleva Mini Coater and Drier.