Cambridge Mass-Vaccination Technology Launched

Product design innovator Team Consulting has devised mass vaccination technology that could save lives following natural disasters such as the Philippines typhoon.

The Cambridge based company believes its revolutionary inhaler technology will prove a Godsend to emergency healthcare workers; currently they often struggle to keep liquid vaccines refrigerated.The new inhaler could enable the future use of inhaled drugs for immunisation, pain relief, diabetes and many other conditions.The team has published a report that describes the performance breakthrough of its innovative Occoris® low-cost inhaler engine concept and lays out its vision for the potential future applications of the technology.

It calculates that once fully developed and approved by regulators, a single-use, disposable inhaler for mass vaccination could be manufactured for less than 15p.

Professor Peter J Barnes, head of respiratory medicine at Imperial College London, hailed the breakthrough. He said: “This is an innovative and exciting technology with great potential. It could enable pulmonary delivery of drugs in many different areas – for example in therapies requiring higher payloads such as inhaled antibiotics and systemic drug delivery.”

Team believes Occoris could open up these new potential therapies as it dramatically increases the efficiency of drug delivery to the lungs compared to typical dry powder inhalers available today, and does so at such a low cost that a single-dose inhaler could become economically viable. The feasibility project to test and develop the technology was part-funded by the UK’s Technology Strategy Board. The data presented in the report released today have demonstrated that in laboratory tests Occoris enables more of the active drug emitted from the device to reach the deep lung with far less deposited in the mouth and throat, where there are often unwanted side effects and no therapeutic benefit.

Whereas an existing inhaler can only deliver 20-40 per cent of the drug into the lungs, Occoris could deliver over 70 per cent, the report suggests.

Inhalers based on Occoris would not be solely reliant on the patient’s inhalation as the energy contained within the inhaler ensures the drug can be aerosolised correctly and consistently. This overcomes some of the usability issues surrounding inhalers, especially the pMDIs that use canisters. Inhalers have been used for many years to deliver drugs to the lungs to treat airway diseases such as asthma, COPD and more recently cystic fibrosis, but due to performance limitations there are many potential therapeutic areas that they cannot be used for, says Team.

“This is unfortunate since dry powder drugs are inherently more stable than liquid formulations and inhaled delivery avoids many of the logistical challenges, anxieties and risks associated with using a needle and syringe,” a spokesman argued.

“For instance inhalers could provide significant benefits in mass immunisation programmes following a flu pandemic, natural disaster or even bio-terrorist attack. Occoris-based inhalers could enable the mass distribution of essential vaccines directly to patients who could then self-administer the correct dose without the issues associated with injections.”

Inhaled pain relief – for everything from migraines to cancer – could also become a major new application, says Team. Oral painkillers take around half an hour to provide therapeutic effect – using inhalers could provide pain relief within seconds.

David Harris, head of respiratory drug delivery at Team Consulting added: “Occoris shows the potential to unlock therapies that are currently beyond the reach of existing inhaler technologies, marking a step-change in DPI performance.”

“If you look at a situation like the recent disaster in the Philippines, where healthcare workers struggled to keep vital liquid vaccines refrigerated to prevent outbreaks of disease, you can see just how valuable a technology like Occoris could be in the future.”

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