Orbis Biosciences on Scalable, Precision Drug Delivery


The core of the company’s approach is controlled-release of particles using Precision Particle Fabrication technology. How does it work?

Precision is the strength of Orbis Biosciences and its approach to drug delivery. At the core of the company’s approach is controlled-release of particles, using Precision Particle Fabrication technology, that can safely and effectively deliver them in products used in a wide range of industries.

Precise Distribution and Particle Control

Maria Flynn, President and CEO of Orbis

Precision Particle Fabrication technology produces uniform microparticles and microcapsules with a narrow size distribution between 20-300 microns and precise control over particle morphology (e.g., porosity or coating thickness). Originally based on joint research in materials science and pharmaceutics, Orbis, which opened in 2008, has combined academic work and industry practices to develop this technology. Scalability is a key advantage for Orbis’ patented technology over competitors. The flexible, single-step technique also easily integrates into existing processes.

Current industry methods of drug delivery include injection and oral intake, says Orbis President and CEO Maria Flynn. Particle size and composition are key attributes for both manufacturers and consumers. Drugs delivered by injection have a narrow particle size for application. Flynn adds, “Oral drugs with large particle sizes can be grainy or gritty.”

Controlling particle size and shell thickness gives manufacturing clients control of delivery to consistently improve: 

• Release profiles – creating the desired release for improved consumer compliance (sustained, pulsatile, staged, delayed, modulated)

• Safety and efficacy – increasing time in the optimal concentration range

• Taste masking – taste masking orally administered drugs and foul-tasting nutrients.

Orbis can work with client companies to create new product lines and reinvent their current portfolios by enabling unprecedented control of critical particle parameters. The application for the technology spans the pharmaceutical, chemical, food and beverage and consumer product industries.

The Top-Notch Team at Orbis

Bo Fishback and Cory Berkland founded Orbis, based in Kansas City, Kan., in 2008. Fishback earned his BS in Biomedical Engineering from Southern Methodist University and MBA from Harvard Business School. With a strong, proven entrepreneurial streak, his career path includes notable achievements as founder and CEO of Zaarly; vice president of entrepreneurship for The Kauffman Foundation; co-founder of LightSpeed Genomics; managing director of Biomed Valley Discoveries and consultant for PureTech Ventures.

Not to be outdone, Berkland has a PhD in chemical and biomolecular engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana, where he co-invented and developed Precision Particle Fabrication technology. He is a professor of pharmaceutical chemistry and chemical and petroleum engineering at The University of Kansas.

Operationally, Maria Flynn leads Orbis and applies her business development experience from Cerner Corporation and technical experience as an engineer. She earned a BS in Civil Engineering from Kansas State University, MS in Environmental Engineering from Stanford University and MBA from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Milind Singh, PhD, leads the technical team at Orbis. He has more than five years of experience developing a variety of controlled-release solutions using Precision Particle Fabrication technology.

Altogether, Orbis employs a full-time staff of seven, plus consultants.

Key Aspects of Precision Particle Fabrication:
Continuous-flow, high-volume nozzle technology with precise control over key attributes responsible for controlled release, including size, composition, coating and materials.Controlled diameter up to 1mm.Production rates of kg/hr to kg/min, depending on the application.Flexible and customizable to accommodate almost any active ingredient:

  • small molecules (hydrophilic and hydrophobic)
  • macromolecules, polymers, nucleic acids, proteins
  • chemotherapeutic biologics

Proven capability to produce a variety of construction release profiles:

  • solids, microcapsules, porous spheres
  • sustained, delayed, pulsatile release profiles

New Developments

While Orbis is still in the development phase for its portfolio of products, the company’s client roster is an indicator of its tactical strength in the marketplace. Pharmaceutical clients represent about 75 percent of Orbis’ business, but other major customers also have enlisted the company’s expertise.

“We have a contract with the Department of Defense to develop long-lasting, anti-microbial meals ready to eat, or MREs,” Flynn says. “It’s been three years in development.” 

Drug development varies depending on the drug in question and the client’s goals. New drugs can take longer to achieve another wave of innovation versus refining an existing drug like a vaccine booster, for instance.

Other uses for controlled-release delivery might involve developing a longer-lasting fragrance or to protect ingredients from each other in a solution until they are supposed to interact. “The hurdles depend on what a client wants to do,” says Flynn. Some projects are for existing products. “It’s not all proof of concept.”

Although Flynn is unable to divulge more client names, she says Orbis is working with Top 5, publicly-traded companies in the pharmaceutical, consumer products and animal health industries. 

The pace of development and entry into the marketplace depends on many factors. Typically, it takes three to five years to develop and bring a product to market. Orbis has plans to release several products in the next year.

Flynn says, “We’re good at partnering with companies, but you can only go as fast as the clients are able. We’re nimble, but we’re also collaborative in our operations.”

Satisfying Work

For Flynn, the company’s novel approach to controlled-release drug delivery is exciting. “The breadth of products we’re working with make it really interesting,” she says.

Helping others is also a motivational tool. “Increasing the compliance of people taking their medicine makes a difference. It makes you feel good about what you’re doing.”