Founded in 1989, Obducat specializes in using lithography to create micro- and nanostructures on surfaces. These play an important role in many industries, including life sciences, pharma and biotech.
Obducat is one of the leading suppliers of lithography equipment, consumables and services, with more than 450 customer and installations worldwide. The company has its headquarters in Lund, Sweden, and has more than 60 employees.
“Obducat can supply cost-effective mass fabrication equipment that enables market introduction of new devices that are smaller, cheaper, more intelligent, or have other improved performance,” said Patrik Lundström, CEO of Obducat.
Moving into life science
While the main customers for lithography systems are in the semiconductor industry, such as those used in consumer electronics, the technology is increasingly finding new roles. There are now applications in life science and medicine, such as drug development, drug delivery, diagnostics and sensors, tissue engineering and biological research. The life science applications use existing materials and technologies, enabling production to be high-throughput at low cost.
“Obducat is bringing semiconductor manufacturing technology, as well as nanotechnology, to life science and medicine. For example, our micro- and nanopatterning technology can improve sensor sensitivity, or create diagnostics devices that use much smaller sample volumes,” said Lundström.
Pharmaceutical companies and start-ups are seeing the benefits in lithography technologies, and Obducat can help them to meet their needs and specifications.
“Customer requirements are much more diverse in the medical device industry compared to the semiconductor industry. Our platform is well suited for customization,” said Lundström.
Nanoscale devices for drug delivery
Transdermal patches with microneedles are used for drug delivery, in particular for short duration delivery of low-dose products such as vaccines. However, there are challenges in their use over long periods of time, as the body recognizes the microneedles as ‘foreign’ and the immune defense starts to reject the needles and closes them up. This reduces the rate of delivery, making the patch less efficient.
A collaboration between Kimberley-Clark and Obducat created a microneedle patch covered with a biocompatible nanostructure that mimicked the body’s 3D cell structure. This meant that the immune system didn’t recognize the needles as ‘foreign’, so delivery could continue longer without being rejected. This product platform has now been sold to Sorrento Therapeutics.
“We have a lot of experience working with biocompatible materials and GMP certified materials,” said Lundström.
Nanotechnology supporting biomedical and biochemical sensors
Diagnostics and lab-on-a-chip technologies use microfluidics and capillary forces to transport samples and reagents in a device. Associated issues in these applications can be clogging and background signal noise. Obducat can create electrodes incorporating nanostructures, channels with nanosurfaces that improve the flow, and surfaces with improved antibody binding capacity. These modifications improve efficiency and reproducibility of results.
“We would like to help develop diagnostics that can be built into mobile phone-connected devices that can be bought over-the-counter [OTC]. This will enable patients to diagnose themselves, for example telling the difference between viral and bacterial infections. This will help in reducing healthcare costs,” said Lundström.
Nanostructured surfaces interacting with cells
The use of antibacterial drugs increases the risk of antimicrobial resistance. Obducat has developed nanostructured surfaces that physically can kill bacteria by rupturing the cell wall. The nanostructures can be applied to flat, concave or convex surfaces.
Obducat can also produce biocompatible surfaces, that interact with cells and tissues, for example in surgical wraps and transdermal patches.