A novel method for producing hollow exine shells from pollen grains

Technology #d-1335

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Harvinder Singh Gill
Chemical Engineering, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas
External Link (gilllab.science)
Shashwati U. Atwe
Chemical Engineering, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas
Pedro Gonzalez-Cruz
Chemical Engineering, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas
Managed By
Cameron Smith
Licensing Associate 806-834-6822
Patent Protection

Provisional Patent Application Filed

Pollen grains are naturally occurring microcapsules produced by plants. Hollow pollen shells have been found useful for pharmaceutical drug delivery among other uses. To be of use for these purposes, pollen shells must be emptied of their proteinaceous material. The conventional method uses an organic solvent to defatten the pollens, then applies an alkali treatment to remove the proteinaceous material from the inside of the pollen, and ends with an acid treatment to remove the intine, which is the inner layer of the pollen shell. 

This method is often used on Lucopodium clavatum spores to produce hollow exine shells. However, this method destroys more delicate species of pollens with less low protein content from different sources.  This technology is a method that can be used on delicate pollen species to produce hollow pollen shells, other than Lucopodium clavatum shells, that can be used for drug delivery mechanisms or different purposes, thus providing access to new hollow pollen shells for various uses.  

Reference Number: D-1335 

  • Market Applications: 
  • Pharmaceutical drug delivery
  • Encapsulation of contrast agents for medical imaging (e.g., MRI) 

Features, Benefits, & Advantages: 

  • Production of hollow pollen shells from various pollen species with more sensitive characteristics 

Intellectual Property: A US provisional patent, serial number 92/404,005, was filed on 10/4/16. 

Development Stage: The method has been tested and verified in an operational environment. It is ready for commercialization.  


  • Harvinder Singh Gill, Chemical Engineering, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas
  • Shashwati U. Atwe,  Chemical Engineering, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas
  • Pedro Gonzalez-Cruz,  Chemical Engineering, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas 

Keywords: Sporopollenin exine capsule extraction, hollow exine shell extraction