Researchers from the Pharmacy and the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering departments of the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) have designed formulations of controlled release microspheres which release the medicine over a prolonged period of time and thereby reduce the number of doses a patient needs to take. It provides a friendly and convenient alternative treatment for pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) which is a rare but serious illness and worsens if untreated. There is no known cure for PAH but with appropriate care and treatment, its progression will be slowed with alleviated symptoms.
The critical challenge addressed by the team is the current treatment options for PAH are administered as intravenous infusions or inhalation solutions. Various controlled release inhalation treatments, ranging from liposomes, biodegradable nano and microparticles, co-precipitates and complexations with cyclodextrins, have been explored. The most effective product requires the patient to remember to inhale the medicine six to nine times daily.
The innovative research reported by the team of pharmacists and engineers is the development of novel polymeric microspheres for inhalation to reduce dosing frequency and improve medication compliance. These microspheres are designed with release modifiers to reside in the lung which is the site of drug action for the drug to be released slowly and consistently.
This study was conducted by Dr Aparna SAIGAL during her PhD candidature under the guidance of Professors Wai Kiong NG, Reginald TAN and Sui Yung CHAN who are experts on the pharmaceutical formulation of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) for new chemical entities (NCE) commercialization as well as the refinement and repurposing of existing APIs to maximize their bioavailability and stability.
A review article of this research has been published in the journal Current Pharmaceutical Design.