HIGHLIGHTS FROM BOSTON, 2014
10/15/14 A wicked good conference was held in Boston this week with several hot products/technologies in drug delivery. Dr. Barbara Lueckel of Roche led off the event and her overview of the Partnering in the industry was extremely promising for 2014-2015 that the need for micro devices will continue to be on the rise. Inhalation and dry powder inhalation was deemed the largest area of growth this year. Afreeza®, MannKind’s DPI was high up on the holy grail charts when it was purchased by Sanofi earlier this year. The other end of the alphabet had MIT studying Zebrafish as an injecting agent to determine if their efficacious nature can be translated into humans.
Highlights of other micro devices presented and discussed were:
• Targeted Devices: In-vitro delivery systems such as BioCardia’s Helix (see photo below), Parkinson’s treatment devices, pain management, and intrathecal (wearable) devices
• Transdermal Delivery- Dissolving Micro Needle Treatment, Hollow Micro Needles, Solid Micro Needle Arrays, Laser Ablation Devices for inflammatory skin diseases
• Ocular Delivery- Nano particles through membrane
• Vaginal Delivery- Nuva ring, EVA & Silicone, large molecule diffusion
• Implantable- microspheres, stents, biopolymers decreasing delivery rates over time, degradable chips triggered remotely
• Inhalation-DoseOne™ single dose disposable, Civitas, Skyepharma, and Astra Zeneca were DPI highlights and side discussions
Dr. Bob Langer of MIT introduced a micro needle capsule for the use in the gastro intestinal tract. The audience and reverence was evident in the crowd of hundreds as Dr. Langer was chatting about his 250 companies, 1,000 publications, 26 founded companies, multiple patents, and highly decorated career to date (and that was just in 2014!) All kidding aside, he is a highly acclaimed scientist/engineer with a heart of gold and is inspired by “using science to help people”. His advice for partnering in drug delivery, “Write a great paper in a hard to get into magazine like Science and Nature, have compelling animal data and animal model, and have a firm list of patents before going to big pharma or VC for a deal. The biggest mistake you can make is to do it (go for partners) too soon. The longer you wait, the more value you create.” Additional questions to ask were “Is it safe, can you manufacture it, are timelines possible, and can someone else do it better.”
Interesting and thought provoking questions that many medical and drug delivery start-ups miss out on. Going it alone vs. finding experienced micro device manufacturers saves energy and resources that could focus on design, regulatory, and critical path milestones to allow the development and manufacturing team to be mutually successful. In my experience this is the number one reason why companies fail in micro devices as they underestimate the challenges with metrology, validation, tooling, and handling micro sized parts and features. Dr. Langer ended his chat with another gem from his long and illustrious career, “In our youth our success is gauged by how well you answer questions. Later in life we are gauged by how well we ask questions.
A truly phenomenal conference with several interesting topics of interest in drug delivery! More on Day 1 and Day 2 in a future blog……