Coronavirus (COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2) and Ultrasonics

Ultrasonication is a powerful tool used in biology, molecular chemistry and biochemistry as well as in the production of pharmaceuticals. Bio-sciences use ultrasonic homogenizers to lyse cells and extract proteins and other intracellular materials, the pharma industry applied ultrasonics to synthesis pharmacologically active molecules, to produce vaccines and to formulate them into nano-sized drug carriers. During the fight against the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 ultrasonicators are used for various applications in research, bio-science and pharma.

Ultrasonication for Development and Production of Pharmaceuticals

Synthesis of Pharmacologically Active Molecules
Improved Remdesivir Solubility by Sonication
Ultrasonic Extraction of Bioactive Compounds from Botanicals

Ultrasonic Vaccine Production
Ultrasonic Applications for Vaccine Production
Improved Vaccine Formulation with Power Ultrasound
Production of RNA Vaccines with Ultrasonics

Ultrasonic Formulation of Pharmaceuticals
Ultrasonic Liposome Preparation
Ultrasonic Production of Vitamin C Liposomes
Ultrasonic Production of Solid Lipid Nanoparticles
Ultrasonic Preparation of Cyclodextrin Complexes
Ivermection-Loaded Solid-Lipid Nanoparticles via Sonication
Ultrasonic Nano-Emulsification
Ultrasonic Nano-Emulsification for Microencapsulation before Spray-Drying
Ultrasonic Viscosity Reduction before Spray-Drying

Viruses can be extracted from cell cultures and organ tissue by ultrasonic homogenisation.


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Ultrasonics for Research in Bio-Science and Bio-Chemistry

Ultrasonic Cell Disruption, Lysis and Extraction
Ultrasonic DNA and RNA Shearing
Ultrasonic Lysis for Western Blotting
Ultrasonics in Virus Research (e.g., monkeypox virus)

High Performance Ultrasonicators for Pharma and Bio-Science

Hielscher ultrasonicators can be remotely controlled via browser control. Sonication parameters can be monitored and adjusted precisely to the process requirements.Hielscher Ultrasonics’ systems are widely used in the pharmaceutical production to synthesise high-quality molecules and to formulate solid lipid nanoparticles and liposomes loaded with pharmaceutical substances, vitamins, antioxidants, peptides and other bioactive compounds. To meet its customers’ demands, Hielscher supplies ultrasonicators from the compact, yet powerful hand-held lab homogenizer and bench-top ultrasonicators to fully industrial ultrasonic systems for the production of high qualities of pharmaceutical substances and formulations. A broad range of ultrasonic sonotrodes and reactors are available to ensure an optimal setup for your pharmaceutical production. The robustness of Hielscher’s ultrasonic equipment allows for 24/7 operation at heavy duty and in demanding environments.
In order to enable our customers to fulfil Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and to establish standardised processes, all digital ultrasonicators are equipped with intelligent software for precise setting of the sonication parameter, continuous process control and automatic recording of all important process parameters on a built-in SD-card. High product quality depends on process control and continuously high processing standards. Hielscher ultrasonicators help you to monitor and standardise your process!

Complete VialTweeter setup: VialTweeter sonotrode at ultrasonic processor UP200St

Ultrasonic sample prep unit VialTweeter: VialTweeter sonotrode at ultrasonic processor UP200St

Scaling up

The high number of COVID-19 cases is a massive challenge to the health system including the pharmaceutical research and production. Whilst currently several drug substances are under investigation (in vitro and in vivo), from the moment a treatment therapy of COVID-19 patients has been established, a large number of drugs must be produced within a short period of time.
The ultrasonic synthesis of chloroquine and chloroquine derivatives is a fast, simple and safe process, which can be linearly scaled up from lab and pilot plant to full commercial production. Our well-trained and long-experienced staff will assist you technically from pilot trials to large quantity production.

The table below gives you an indication of the approximate processing capacity of our ultrasonicators:

Batch VolumeFlow RateRecommended Devices
1 to 500mL10 to 200mL/minUP100H
10 to 2000mL20 to 400mL/minUP200Ht, UP400St
0.1 to 20L0.2 to 4L/minUIP2000hdT
10 to 100L2 to 10L/minUIP4000hdT
n.a.10 to 100L/minUIP16000
n.a.largercluster of UIP16000

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Hielscher Ultrasonics manufactures high-performance ultrasonic homogenizers for dispersion, emulsification and cell extraction.

High-power ultrasonic homogenizers from lab to pilot and industrial scale.

Facts Worth Knowing


The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, also known as 2019-nCoV or novel coronavirus 2019, is responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic, which started in December 2019 in Wuhan, China and spread from there across the world.
With a high infection / transmission rate, SARS-CoV-2 spreads mainly via droplet infection and fomite transmission. However, since virus particles can be found also in faeces, transmission via fecal–oral route is possible, too. The main route of human to human transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is by having close contact to infected persons: Respiratory droplets generated by sneezing and coughing of an infected person are inhaled by others, so that they get subsequently infected.
Coronavirus with its remarkable spike proteinsCoronaviruses such as SARS-CoV-2 attach to the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor, which are mainly found in the lungs (and to a smaller degree in the heart, intestines, arteries, and kidney). The coronavirus spike proteins (S-proteins / glycoproteins), which protrude from the coronavirus’ envelope, bind to the ACE2 receptor, fuse with the host cell membrane and enter this way the host cell. Like all viruses, coronaviruses use the host cell to replicate their genome and create thereby new virus particles.
Coronaviruses contain a positive-sense, single-stranded RNA genome. Unlike influenza viruses, the coronavirus is a unsegmented virus. SARS-CoV-2 has relatively short genome made of just one long strand of genetic molecules. This means that SARS-CoV-2 viruses consist of one segment, only. Influenza viruses, which are RNA viruses like the coronaviruses, have a segmented genome consisting of eight genome segments. This gives the influenza virus a special ability for recombination / mutation.


The scientific name for coronavirus is Orthocoronavirinae or Coronavirinae, Coronavirus belongs to the family of Coronaviridae.
Coronaviruses are a group of related viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds. In human population, coronavirus infection results in respiratory tract infections. Such respiratory tract infections can have mild effects, expressed as common cold (e.g. rhinoviruses), whilst other coronavirus infections can be lethal, such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), and COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019).

Human Coronaviruses

Concerning human coronaviruses , seven strains are known. Four of these seven coronavirus strains provoke generally mild symptoms, known as the common cold:

  • Human coronavirus OC43 (HCoV-OC43)
  • Human coronavirus HKU1
  • Human coronavirus NL63 (HCoV-NL63, New Haven coronavirus)
  • Human coronavirus 229E (HCoV-229E)

The coronaviruses HCoV-229E, -NL63, -OC43, and -HKU1 circulate permanently in the human population and cause generally mid respiratory infections in adults and children worldwide.
However, the three coronavirus strains below are known for their severe symptoms:

  • Middle East respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (MERS-CoV), also known as novel coronavirus 2012 and HCoV-EMC
  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV / SARS-classic)
  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), also known as 2019-nCoV or novel coronavirus 2019


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