Personalised aerosol drug delivery to aid in respiratory disease

A new respiratory drug delivery technology, supported by the Monash Institute of Medical Engineering and SPARK Oceania, will aim to target different regions of the airway specific to the disease to be treated.

A portable inhaler designed to improve user experience and enable patient monitoring is also being developed.

Patient compliance is a major challenge in respiratory drug delivery with up to 60 per cent of patients suffering from chronic diseases not adhering to prescribed regimens when using pressurized metered-dose inhalers (pMDI). Similarly, 90 per cent of patients do not perform all the essential steps necessary in using these devices correctly.

Dr Tuncay Alan and Dr Jason Brenker from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Monash University say this technology aims to deliver an easy and effective way to optimise health outcomes regardless of different lung capacities, disease states, age and gender within patients.

“Viral and chronic respiratory diseases continue to be amongst the leading causes of death both in Australia and internationally. Their treatment often requires aerosolised drug compounds to be effectively delivered to specific regions of the airway,” said Dr Alan.

“For increased effectiveness a personalised approach is required which is currently not possible with any commercially available device. This current research is working to fix this,” said Dr Brenker.

“The personalised aerosol delivery technology will be of huge benefit to individuals suffering from respiratory diseases, opening the way for using the extensive surface area of the lungs as portals for the systemic delivery of therapeutic agents and biologics,” said Dr Alan.

Drs Alan and Brenker, along with Richard Morfuni and Professor Daphne Flynn from the Design Health Collab at Monash University have spent since January working on the portable inhaler design. Pre-clinical testing is being undertaken with collaborators in the Woolcock Institute at the University of Sydney.

This technology is currently progressing towards commercialisation. Next steps include testing the life-time analysis of devices, testing with a broader range of drug compounds and production of a hand-held prototype suitable for use in clinical trials.


Figure 1. a) patented inhaler design b) a comparison of the new approach with existing methods, c) an indication of the typical deposition location of different particle sizes in the airways.