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7 November 2005 PR 05/105

New test system will speed development of next generation inhalers and drugs

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.

For further information please contact:

Notes to editors

  1. Photographs are available to download from http://www.varidose.com
  2. About VariDose
    VariDose was developed by Loughborough University’s Photonics Engineering and Health Technology research group, which specialises in non-invasive optical monitoring systems for medical, surgical and personal health applications. Working closely with industrial, healthcare and research end-users, the group has an award-winning track record in providing enabling technologies and techniques.
    VariDose Ltd addresses the research and development, testing and manufacturing of inhalation devices and inhaled drugs. A limited number of instruments are currently available for sale and ‘beta-stage’ testing and the technology is available for licensing for specific applications.
    VariDose Ltd has received £250k investment from Lachesis (http://www.lachesisfund.com) the seed fund that supports early stage technologies from five East Midlands universities. Lachesis is managed by leading independent venture capital group. Quester (http://www.quester.com)
    For more information, visit http://www.varidose.co.uk
  3. About Cambridge Consultants
    Cambridge Consultants has, for over 40 years, enabled its clients to turn business opportunities into commercial successes, whether launching first-to-market products, entering new markets or expanding existing markets through the introduction of new technologies. It develops breakthrough products, creates and licenses intellectual property, and provides business consultancy in technology critical issues for clients worldwide. With a team of over 200 engineers, scientists and consultants, in offices in Cambridge (UK) and Boston (USA), it is able to offer solutions across a diverse range of industries including healthcare, industrial and consumer products, automotive, transport, energy and wireless communications.
    For more information, visit http://www.CambridgeConsultants.com
  4. Loughborough has an established reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry, and unrivalled sporting achievement. Assessments of teaching quality by the Quality Assurance Agency place Loughborough in the top flight of UK universities, and industry highlights Loughborough in its top five for graduate recruitment. Around 45% of the University’s income is for research. The University has been awarded four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes: for its collaboration with aerospace and automotive companies such as BAE Systems, Ford and Rolls Royce; for its work in developing countries; for pioneering research in optical engineering; and for its world-leading role in sports research, education and development.

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