A Holy Grail in the drug-delivery business is the quest for a needle-free way for diabetics to take their insulin. Galway, Ireland-based Aerogen and San Francisco-based Dance Pharmaceuticals believe they have found the secret passageway--through the nose. And they've announced a drug-delivery partnership to develop an inhaled-insulin device.
The device will administer Dance's insulin product using Aerogen's OnQ aerosol generator technology. OnQ is an electronic micropump that is as small as 15mm in diameter and is wafer-thin. It has a dome-shaped aperture plate containing more than 1,000 tapered holes, surrounded by a vibrational element. When energy is applied, the aperture plate vibrates more than 100,000 times per second, causing each aperture to act as a micropump, drawing liquid through the holes to form consistently sized droplets. The result is a low-velocity aerosol that penetrates deep into the lungs, according to the company.
"Dance's team of inhaled insulin experts considered all potential aerosol technologies worldwide and chose Aerogen's technology because we're convinced it's the best, most patient-friendly technology for our first inhaled insulin product, said John Patton, Dance's CEO, in a statement. "Most diabetics avoid taking insulin for years because the treatment requires multiple daily injections. ... Our mission at Dance is to provide inhaled insulin in small, discreet, painless, and low cost form to patients throughout the world."
The Irish Times points out that this will not be the first inhaled insulin-delivery product. In 2006, Exubera was launched by Pfizer after it was developed by partner Nektar Therapeutics, which at the time owned Aerogen. Exubera failed in the market because the delivery technology was too expensive. It was withdrawn from the market in 2007.
Aerogen says the product, which is likely to hit the market in 2016, will be a pocket-sized device.