• calcium carbonate;
  • templating;
  • protein;
  • insulin;
  • drug delivery;
  • microparticle


Formulation of therapeutic proteins into particulate forms is a main strategy for site-specific and prolonged protein delivery as well as for protection against degradation. Precise control over protein particle size, dispersity, purity, as well as mild preparation conditions and minimal processing steps are highly desirable. It is, however, hard to fit all these criteria with conventional preparation techniques. Here a one-step hard-templating synthesis of microparticles composed of functional, non-denatured protein is reported. The method is based on filling porous CaCO3 microtemplates with the protein near to its isoelectric point (pI) followed by pH- or EDTA-mediated dissolution of the tempplates. In principle, a wide variety of proteins can be converted into microparticles using this approach. The main requirement is an overlap of the protein insolubility and a template solubility for a certain parameter (here pH or EDTA). Here the formulation of insulin particles is studied in detail and it is shown that particles consisting of high molecular weight protein (catalase) can also be prepared. In this context, the synthesis of CaCO3 templates with controlled size, the mechanism of the protein microparticle formation and mechanical properties of the microparticles are discussed. For the first time, the fabrication of mesoporous monodispersed CaCO3 microtemplates with identical porocity but tuned diameter from 3 to 20 μm is demonstrated. The protein particle diameter can be adjusted by choosing the appropriate template size that is critical for successful pulmonary delivery of insulin. As a first step towards insulin delivery, the in vitro release of insulin at physiological conditions is studied.