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Emerging Novel Liquid Delivery Systems

The inhalation of liquid droplets has been studied and developed since the mid 1840s when Charriere in France constructed the first liquid pulverisation device (nebuliser) for Sales-Girons. This triggered the development of smaller and more convenient table top jet nebuliser devices. In the early 20th Century these were adapted into hand-held, glass blown devices powered by a rubber 'herons' ball operated by the user. In the mid 1940s small electrical compressors were becoming more available and in the early 1960s the plastic jet nebuliser was developed. At the same time the development of ultrasonic nebulisers took place. During the mid 1990s hand-held and battery-operated ultrasonic nebulisers were marketed, such as the Omron NE-U03.

Simultaneously scientists and companies were developing and exploring novel technologies for liquid drug delivery. These technologies have been directed to replace and reduce current conventional jet and ultrasonic nebulisers' therapy and treatment time, which is often between five and 10 minutes. Recent focus has been on competing with pMDI and DPI therapy where the treatment consists of one or more inhalations. To date, there have been few devices marketed in the conventional jet and ultrasonic segment, only Omron and Aerogen have presented devices built on non conventional jet and ultrasonic technology (Omron's NE-U14, NE-U22 and NE-U03 and Aerogen has lately marketed their AeroNeb® and AeroNeb pro®). The only device competing with the pMDI/DPI segment that has been approved but not yet marketed is Boehringer Ingelheim's Respimat® softmist inhaler. This device is approved in the Netherlands but not marketed yet. It is probably awaiting EC mutual recognition before its European launch.

This article will give an overview of the current novel liquid inhalation technologies from a technical point of view and focus on technologies that are similar to the pMDIs and DPIs in their function. It will include a review of nine companies working with novel technologies for single inhalation liquid administration and three with potential technologies that can be used in this area.


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By Ola Nerbrink, Principal Scientist, Novo Nordisk A/S, Hillerшd, Denmark

Dr Nerbrink is a Principal Scientist at Novo Nordisk A/S in Hillerшd, Denmark. He obtained a Bachelors degree in chemistry/physics from Lunds University in Sweden in 1981, a Licentiate degree in Occupational Hygiene with emphasis on inhalation topics from Lund University in 1997 and in 2001 he gained a PhD in Occupational Medicine from Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. Dr Nerbrink has been active in the pharmaceutical field for more than 19 years. He was employed at AstraZeneca R&D Lund in 1985 where he worked with aerosol-related development in the pre-clinical and pharmaceutical area as a Laboratory Scientist and later as Research Scientist.

In 1986 he was employed as an Associate Director and then Principal Scientist where he focused mainly on novel powder and liquid device development at the pharmaceutical department of AstraZeneca, with specific interest in current and future liquid aerosolisation technology. Since 2002 he has been employed by Novo Nordisk A/S in Hillerшd as a Principal Scientist where he works on the research/development of liquid atomisation systems.

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Dr Ola Nerbrink
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