suffering from conditions as diverse as asthma and
diabetes could benefit from research at Cardiff University
to improve the effectiveness of drugs taken through
Scientists in the Welsh School of Pharmacy are working
on new nano-particle drug formulations for inhalers,
and enhancers to improve the effectiveness of proteins,
such as insulin, delivered to the lung.
"Drugs delivered through inhalers are usually either
in a suspension (as particles dispersed in liquid),
or in a solution (when the drug is dissolved in the
liquid)," explained Dr James Birchall. "However,
there are problems with both methods - a suspension
can lead to sediment in the inhaler and less of the
drug reaching the target area of the lung, while
solutions present problems in dissolving the drug
in the inhaler propellant liquid and can make the
drug itself less stable."
The Cardiff team's approach is to prepare the drug
in nano-particle form – ensuring the correct dosage
reaches the lung and the drug retains its stability,
and providing the possibility of slowing the release
of the drug in the lung for longer therapeutic effect.
This could lead to the possibility of more drugs
being administered effectively by inhaler, rather
than by tablet or injection.
Meanwhile, the team is also developing a process
which uses a naturally occurring substance to enhance
the absorption of insulin. Initial studies suggest
insulin is absorbed three to four times more effectively
by this process.
Now Dr Birchall and his colleague Dr Glyn Taylor
of The Pulmonary Research Group aim to combine the
two innovations to prolong and maximise the absorption
"These two technologies could make a huge improvement
in the effectiveness of spray inhalers for users
suffering from a wide range of illnesses and conditions," said