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Undip Fabricates Theaflavin, a Nano Spray Dyer for COVID-19 Medication

The innovation and creativity of the academic community will bring Indonesia towards a developed country and can even offer solutions to societal challenges. The step is as done by the lecturer of the Mechanical Engineering Study Program, Faculty of Engineering, Diponegoro University (Undip), Prof. Dr. Ir. Eflita Yohana, M.T. A lecturer with expertise in dehumidification, commonly called Yohana, has developed a nano spray dryer machine with dehumidification liquid desiccant for producing tea theaflavin powder as a COVID-19 treatment.

Yohana said that collaborative research with Prof. Choi from Korea and the Undip Vocational Research Team such as Mohamad Endy Yulianto, S.T. M.T.; Dr. Dra. Susiana Purwantisari M.Si.; Dr. Indah Hartati; Retno Dwi Nyamiati, S.T. M.T.; Dr. Ria Desiriani, S.T., M.T.; and Hermawan Dwi Ariyanto, S.T., M.Sc. Ph.D. with the Basic Research Excellence of Higher Education (PDUPT) scheme funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Research and Technology. The research with the theme “Fundamental Study of the Nano Spray Drying Process with Liquid Desiccant for the Development of Fine Powder Theaflavin Tea as a Potential Inhibitor of Sars-CoV-2 MPro” is an innovation in the production of nano theaflavin tea for covid drugs.

The Undip Professor, the owner of 11 of these patents, said this research is driven by concerns that acute respiratory diseases caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus have spread worldwide. Therefore, together with the team, she formed a research consortium from various fields and expertise to contribute to solving the nation’s problems.

The development of pharmaceutical encapsulation of the tea nano delivery theaflavin through a tubular nano-liposome double emulsion liquid membrane has been studied by Endy and the team. The technique developed is spray drying, which has produced uniform particles to protect temporarily and control the time and rate of release in the target. However, the main problem of the spray drier for powder theaflavin lies in the thermal degradation of theaflavin to thearubigin due to high drying temperature for a long time. For that, it is necessary to dry at low temperatures and relative humidity as well as a short time with the innovation of absorption dehumidification and nanodispersion, as Yohana explained.

Yohana, who has published 70 reputable international papers in Scopus-indexed, explained that the nano spray dryer generates millions of tiny droplets per second using a vibrating membrane driven by piezoelectric head spray. The nano spray dryer with a heating system and electrostatic particle collector has a 200 mg or 2 mL volume. The yield of the final product increases up to 90%, the particle size drops to 300 nm with a narrow size distribution, and the rapid drying process reaches up to 150 ml/hour. The main advantages of nano-size powders are increased stability, higher surface volume ratio, and penetration rate, and the drug’s therapeutic potential becomes more effective and non-toxic. The nano size significantly affects the portage of cellular and tissue nanoparticles, affecting their internal mechanisms.

Scientists who have implemented several downstream products in the tea industry, including with Patent number IDS000007201, revealed that the nano spray drying mechanism is the evaporation of solvents and the diffusion of solutes in the spray due to simultaneous heat and mass transfer. The solution product is dispersed into fine droplets, followed by the evaporation of the solvent, so mass shrinkage occurs until a fine powder is formed in the form of an amorphous or crystal. The nano-ionization mechanism changes the morphology of particles from coarse granules to fine powders. The resulting product can increase solubility because the surface-to-nanoparticle ratio is higher and has a more amorphous structure, accelerating the kinetic release of a product.

The team works with the Tea and Kina Research Center (PPTK) Gambung tea industry in South Bandung and PT. Rumpun Sari Medini is responsible for the development of tea theaflavin powder commercial products. The hope is that shortly it can immediately commercialize products in the industry through applied and commercial research so that the research results can be helpful for the community, especially people struggling to recover from the disease,” concluded Yohana.

Prof. Dr. Ir. Eflita Yohana, M.T., when receiving the Plaque of Undip Professor on Monday (11/12/2023).
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