Some years ago someone noticed that surfers with cystic fibrosis (CF) have improved lung function over their skateboarding peers, or really anyone else with CF that doesn’t get sprayed with saltwater on a regular basis. Turns out that while nature has created a good way to deliver hypertonic saline to the lungs, carrying an ocean around is not a practical way to receive therapy. Parion Sciences, a development-stage company working on commercializing these findings into a practical inhaler, has partnered with Cambridge Consultants to create technology that can deliver tiny droplets of saline deep into the lungs.
Traditional nebulizers are not effective enough in creating the tiny droplets necessary to penetrate through the small airways of the lungs, and the trans-nasal cannula through which the mist must flow can’t condensate it or you get large droplets. The development of the new technology involved creating a filter that only allows droplets small enough to come through and a new material that prevents condensation from forming on the surface of the cannula.
From the announcement:
“We immediately recognised the potential of this project to transform the lives of CF patients,” said Matthew Allen, programme director at Cambridge Consultants. “The challenge was to build an aerosol nebuliser system that could be comfortably used by patients overnight – with the saline mist travelling down a long cannula to the sleeping patient without forming the large droplets that often occur in a standard nebuliser system. The size of the saline droplets is crucial to the success of the treatment as they need to be small enough to penetrate deep into the lungs.”
The tPAD (trans-nasal pulmonary aerosol delivery) device has been assessed in a clinical trial – and so greatly exceeded its predicted performance that additional devices have now been requested to support further clinical trials. The aim is to provide an easy and effective treatment system for CF patients that is suitable even for young children and allows the disease to be treated at the earliest possible stages.
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