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Surfactant - Therapy, Excipient and Humectant

Surfactant replacement therapy for the treatment and prevention of neonatal respiratory distress syndrome (RDS) has been a major success story in respiratory care over the past decade. Animal-derived and synthetic surfactants are now available commercially throughout the world and there are several others in development. Surfactants are currently providing a miracle-like contribution towards dramatically improving the survival rate of critically ill infants with less than 30 weeks' gestation.

However, these advances may well be overshadowed by progressions in formulation technology that will make synthetic surfactants available for a number of other conditions. After the first few days from birth, adequate surfactant function is vitally important for optimal lung function. Surfactant dysfunction arising from a variety of mechanisms may contribute to a number of conditions. Surfactant therapy has been examined in a number of these with varying effects.

They include acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) (1), respiratory syncytial virus bronchiolitis in infants (2), chronic bronchitis (3), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (4), asthma (5,15), respiratory infections (6) and cystic fibrosis (7). Understanding the different roles of endogenous surfactant and the dysfunctions observed in these conditions must be a consideration when designing an effective therapy. In addition to opposing surface tension forces within the alveolus to maintain airway stability, surfactant has also been reported to promote mucociliary clearance (8), bind or neutralise aeroallergens, pollens, bacteria and other particulates (9,10), and oppose airway oedema (11).


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By Derek Woodcock, Technical Services Director for Britannia Pharmaceuticals Ltd. Derek Woodcock is Technical Services Director for Britannia Pharmaceuticals Ltd., where he is responsible for the company's medical, clinical and development projects. Derek oversees specific technical projects from the formulation definition stage to clinical evaluation and registration.
He currently has technical responsibility for establishing Britannia's phospholipid and surfactant research, which also covers some novel delivery technologies for internal and out-licensing opportunities. In addition to technical expertise, he has particular knowledge in the area of drug licensing and registration.
Derek gained a BPharm degree in Pharmacy from The School of Pharmacy in London and an MBA from Kingston University. He is also a registered Pharmacist.

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Derek Woodcock
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