New Asthma Medicine Insights Could Improve Future Treatment

New research has revealed new insights into common asthma aerosol treatments to aid the drug’s future improvements which could benefit hundreds of millions of global sufferers.

Lung diseases such as asthma are a major global health issue, with an estimated 330 million asthma sufferers worldwide. The most effective treatments are through direct inhalation of medicine to the lungs. However, generating the aerosols for inhalation is a scientific challenge because of our limited knowledge of the microstructure of drug products before they are aerosolized.

In new research, University of Manchester-based scientists demonstrate how they have used x-ray CT scanning to quantify the tiny microstructures of individual particles from the drug product at the nanoscale.

This is the first time that the 3D microstructure has been revealed and gives scientists and pharmaceutical producers a better understanding of the behavior of the drug product under aerosolization.

Lead author of the research, Dr Parmesh Gajjar said: “We have been able to visualize a drug-blend in 3D, and see the interplay between drug and non-drug particles in the medicine. This is important for final quality control of asthma medicines to check the actual amount of drug and to help formulate improved asthma medications.”

The work was made possible through the high-resolution x-ray computed tomography (XCT) instruments in the world leading Henry Moseley X-ray Imaging Facility (HMXIF) at The University of Manchester that provide the capability to analyze a sample at up to 50 nanometers in resolution. 

This is particularly important for the inhalation medicines which require aerosolization to generate particles small enough to be adsorb via the lungs. In this project the particles measured less than 5 µm to reach the deepest parts of the lungs. 

The work is part of a EPSRC-funded national collaboration “INFORM 2020” between the Universities of Herfordshire, Manchester, Leeds and Cambridge, with the support of 3M, Astra Zeneca, Glaxo Smith Kline, Malvern Panalytical, and Carl Zeiss Microscopy that is seeking to revolutionize our fundamental understanding of Asthma medications for the design of more effective therapies.