AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" key to new drug particle coating technique

By Gareth Macdonald contact

- Last updated on GMT

AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" key to new drug particle coating technique
Researchers in Australia are using a song by rock band AC/DC in a new coating process they claim improves API delivery characteristics. 

April 1 is a difficult day for a journalist as I’m sure the folks at the Washington Post​ - or a former colleague who was once convinced penguins can fly​ - would agree.

So when an Australian newswire​ announced that the music of hard rock outfit AC/DC is an integral part of a new drug particle coating process earlier today, we were more than a little sceptical.

However, according to Will Venn, media liaison officer at the University of South Australia (UniSA), the story is true.

He told us “I set up the interview yesterday and UniSA is aiming to put out a media release on this next week, so despite the timing it's not a fool's trick.”

Lead researcher Professor Nico Voelcker also assured us the story is genuine, pointing to a recently published study​.

So here we go… 

Good vibrations

Scientists at UniSA have used vibrations generated by AC/DC’s music – specifically the 1990 hit “Thunderstruck​” – to cause drug containing porous silicon particles to bounce into the air where they can be completely coated with a plasma-polymer.

The plasma polymer coating is designed to protect the particles from degradation, thereby increasing the length of time they circulate in the body. It is also intended to control the rate of API release.

According to Professor Voelcker before the team used the AC/DC song, completely coating drug particles was impossible.

He told The Lead "Normally we would ignite a plasma onto the surface. The problem with doing that is you only form the coating on one side of the particle, the side that is exposed. But the side of the particle on the surface, the other side, is not going to get coated​.”

That is where we came up with the idea of using a loud speaker that we would play into the system. We would turn that loudspeaker to a song that it would vibrate and the particles would bounce up and down. The chaotic frequencies worked well and gave you a more homogenous coating​.”


The team used the technique to coat particles containing the anticancer active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) camptothecin.

They reported that: “The over coating resulted in a markedly slower release of the cytotoxic drug, and this effect correlated positively with the plasma polymer coating times, ranging from 2-fold up to more than 100-fold​.”

Voelcker told us his team is working on using the technique to coat particles containing other drugs.

He also said “Thunderstruck” would continue to be the song of choice, rejecting the suggestion that for disorders like erectile dysfunction or depression other tunes may be more appropriate.

I don’t think Barry White would have worked​” he said, adding on the other hand that “Bigmouth Strikes Again [by the Smiths] probably would have done the job​.”

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