How The Delivery Of Pharmaceutical Drugs Will Change The Future. Hello everyone, I hope you are well. In today’s post, I will be sharing a guest post from Professor Afzal R Mohammed, Professor of Pharmaceutics. Professor Afzal R Mohammed will explore how the delivery of pharmaceutical drugs will change the future. Pharmaceutical drugs have seen a seismic shift over the past ten years, with a focus on a new class of biological drugs (biologics). These have the potential to revolutionise the treatment of many common conditions, yet they are, by nature, more fragile. Therefore, to facilitate the mass adoption of these new biological drugs, the industry needs to find safe, effective and cost-efficient ways to deliver them.
How The Delivery Of Pharmaceutical Drugs Will Change The Future
It is not always the case that seismic changes in medical treatments make the headlines. Still, in the last ten years, there has been a significant shift in the development of Pharmaceutical drugs with a move away from chemically synthesised drugs to focus more on a new class of biological drugs – biologics.
Biologics have the potential to revolutionise the treatment of many common conditions that significantly affect millions of lives, such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and certain cancers. Six out of the past ten new FDA-approved drugs have been biologics, showing the size of the shift.
Yet, biologics are, by nature, more fragile. To facilitate the mass adoption of these new biological drugs, the industry needs to find safe, effective and cost-efficient ways to deliver them.
The previous generation of chemically synthesised drugs is pretty much one-size-fits-all. Drugs like paracetamol work for the majority of people in safe doses; they come in stable pill form, and it is difficult to overdose accidentally. Overall, they are safe to self-administer, relatively practical and cheap to produce, transport and sell.
Biological drugs, on the other hand, are very different in terms of properties and formulations. They are much more complicated, specific and targeted, meaning greater efficacy and fewer side effects. Yet, this also means they tend to be more vulnerable and potent.
To keep them stable, most biological drugs must be stored in refrigerated units at exact temperature ranges. They must also be administered in precise doses tailored to the individual and usually injected intravenously. As such, they tend to be stored, handled and administered in hospitals, health centres and GPs, complicating the delivery of these medications.
Not only does this make it much more expensive to deliver these biological drugs, but it also makes it harder to transport and store, especially in countries without reliable refrigeration or power, making global adoption of these drugs much more difficult.
These key challenges are holding the pharmaceutical industry back. Biological drugs are often far more effective, have fewer unwanted side effects and can be used to manage or cure a wide range of otherwise life-threatening illnesses.
Suppose we can solve the challenge of storing, transporting and delivering new biological drugs safely, effectively and cost-effectively. In that case, we will unlock a new and exciting future for the medical and pharmaceutical world. Two promising advancements that could revolutionise biological drug delivery are currently being explored: liquid-based delivery and inhalation.
One common way to deliver synthetic drugs is via the gut (the buccal system). Over the years, the pharmaceutical industry has developed reliable ways to transport drugs to the gut without being damaged by stomach acid. However, the main difficulty with biological drugs is that they tend to be much larger compounds, which are more challenging to absorb in the gut.
One approach being developed by Max Bio+ is to use a unique combination of polymers and lipids to create a liquid-based delivery system for biological drugs. This composite system creates nanostructures, such as water, that hold and disperse biologics in an aqueous solution. The result is the creation of nano-particulates that can permeate across multiple cell layers into the bloodstream via the buccal route (gut).
Moreover, this unique combination of polymers and lipids has created a synergistic effect with biological drugs, increasing their potency.
The application of this approach could be comprehensive, offering a stable oral liquid form of essential drugs, such as insulin. So, rather than people with diabetes needing to inject insulin several times a day, they could drink a shot of insulin when required.
Other applications could also include drugs otherwise insoluble in water, such as CBD, which binds to fats and is often found as oils. Instead of requiring often unpalatable emulsifiers to mix these compounds into other water-based liquids, they can be added at higher concentrations without sacrificing flavour. The result could be more potent CBD-based drinks and foods, including alcoholic beverages.
Another exciting area of biological drug delivery is inhalation systems. Inhalers for conditions like asthma have been around for years. However, formulating drugs for inhalers typically requires a lot of energy, heat, and solvents. While this isn’t a problem for most synthetic drugs, biological drugs are much more sensitive to heat and solvents. As a result, traditional inhalation manufacturing methods don’t lend themselves to formulating biological drugs.
Additionally, most inhalation drugs are low-dose compounds, making measuring and reliably delivering the correct dose into the lungs easier. For more potent or high-dose drugs, it can be a challenge to ensure that the correct dose is delivered and, significantly, absorbed in the lungs. If the molecule is too light, it will be exhaled; if it’s too heavy, it might not be absorbed.
Aston Particle Technologies developed an exciting approach using isothermal dry particle coating technology to blend potent and high-dose biologics into inhalation formulas at ambient temperatures. No additional heat or solvents are required, making it the ideal candidate for delivering biologics via inhalers.
The approach is also more straightforward than other methods of formulating high-dose drugs. It doesn’t require a complex multi-stage process, helping accelerate drug development and route to market timelines while reducing costs. The fact that it doesn’t use excessive energy or solvents means it is also more environmentally friendly.
We are on the cusp of a transformative wave of biological drugs that will improve lives worldwide. Some of these drugs, such as insulin, have already made considerable differences in millions of people’s quality and length of life. The advancement of these types of drugs could lead to the easy and effective management of a wide range of illnesses.
By advancing the delivery of these biological drugs, we can make it safer, easier and cheaper to transport, handle and store these drugs. Rather than going to a hospital or requiring daily injections, patients will be able to drink, eat or inhale their medication.
In the wake of the COVID pandemic, we have understood how important it is to find quicker and easier ways to vaccinate large groups of people. As biologics, vaccines can benefit from these new delivery systems, allowing rapid distribution of vaccines as liquids or inhalers, for example.
It is exciting to think of how biologics will transform people’s lives over the next decade and beyond, with the potential to cure or manage debilitating and life-threatening illnesses. The key to this transformation, however, lies in delivery. Safe, effective, cost-efficient delivery will allow everyone to participate in this medical revolution, helping end suffering worldwide. That is the future we should all be working towards.
I hope you enjoyed that.
About The Author
Professor Afzal R Mohammed is Professor of Pharmaceutics and advisor to Max Bio+. Max Bio+ was founded in 2020 by Professor Sunil Shah, Consultant Ophthalmologist, Professor at Aston University, and philanthropist Sean Ngu. Max Bio+ has created revolutionary patented technology to solve the perennial problem of how to mix oil and water, specifically for drug delivery. https://maxbiology.com/