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Drug Delivery to the Lungs exhibition in Edinburgh


A new optical instrument that could vastly reduce the amount of time the pharmaceutical industry spends in R&D, by speeding up the measurement of drug inhaler performance, is being launched by Loughborough University spin out VariDose Limited.

Heightened interest in innovative pulmonary drug delivery is fuelled by the emergence of inhaled systemic drugs and global concern over the sharp rise in respiratory conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The groundbreaking product, VariDose, utilises custom-designed and state of the art opto-electronics and takes less than 60 seconds to run each test.

It enables drug delivery and pharmaceutical companies to quickly, and more efficiently, test a wide range of drug-device combinations at the development stage, without relying on standard inhaler testing methods.

The VariDose device provides additional valuable information on the detailed characteristics of the particle or droplet cloud emitted by the inhaler and can also be positioned in-line with other measurement devices, a breathing simulator or a patient.

VariDose works by measuring the cloud of drug released from an inhaler as it passes through a tube intersected by co-planar beams of red, blue and infra-red light. Sensors are able to monitor the structure of the evolving drug cloud as the light passes through. Detailed analysis is then presented on a standard Windows® enabled PC or laptop. Results can be used to investigate essential cloud characteristics related to variability in particle size distribution, fine particle fraction and dose to pinpoint how design modifications could improve both drug and device effectiveness.

"Current measurement systems, such as cascade impactors and impingers, have been around for over 20 years and are inflexible and labour intensive. The use of VariDose during R&D will dramatically increase the efficiency of the development process," says Peter Smith, Professor of Photonics at Loughborough University and co-inventor, of VariDose, with Dr Olga Kusmartseva.

"VariDose represents a major step change in novel device and drug formulation research by enabling companies to focus on effective drugs and devices," adds Brian Barney, head of Drug Delivery at Cambridge Consultants - who developed the complete product in just four months. He continues, "I’m confident that in years to come the industry could look back at this product as a defining innovation in the development of drugs and delivery methods."

VariDose will be launched at the Drug Delivery to the Lungs exhibition and conference in Edinburgh on 7 - 9 December 2005.

Anna Seddon | alfa
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