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Device May Spur New Drug Inhalers

Photonics.com
Nov 2005
BOSTON, Nov. 7 -- A new optical instrument could vastly reduce the time the pharmaceutical industry spends on research and development by speeding up the measurement of drug inhaler performance.

The device, called VariDose, was developed by Cambridge Consultants, a Cambridge, England and Boston-based technology and innovation company, for VariDose Ltd., a Leicestershire, England, spinoff of Loughborough University's Photonics Engineering and Health Technology research group. The group specializes in noninvasive optical monitoring systems for medical, surgical and personal health applications.

VariDose uses custom-designed optoelectronics and enables drug delivery and pharmaceutical companies to more efficiently test drug-device combinations at the development stage, without relying on standard inhaler testing methods. It takes less than 60 seconds to run each test and provides information on the detailed characteristics of the particle or droplet cloud emitted by the inhaler, Cambridge Consultants said. It can also be positioned in-line with other measurement devices, a breathing simulator or with a patient, the company said.

VariDose works by measuring the "cloud" of drug released from an inhaler as it passes through a tube intersected by co-planar beams of red, blue and infrared light. Sensors are able to monitor the structure of the evolving drug cloud as light passes through it. A detailed analysis is presented on a standard Windows-enabled PC or laptop. Results can be used to investigate essential cloud characteristics related to variability in particle size distribution, fine particle fraction and dose to pinpoint how design modifications could improve both drug and device effectiveness.

"Current measurement systems, such as cascade impactors and impingers, have been around for over 20 years and are inflexible and labor-intensive," said Peter Smith, professor of photonics at Loughborough University and co-inventor of VariDose with Olga Kusmartseva, a research associate. "The use of VariDose during R&D will dramatically increase the efficiency of the development process."

VariDose will be launched at the Aerosol Society's Drug Delivery to the Lungs (DDL16) exhibition and conference, to be held Dec. 7-9 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

For more information, visit: www.varidose.co.uk



GLOSSARY
optoelectronics
A sub-field of photonics that pertains to an electronic device that responds to optical power, emits or modifies optical radiation, or utilizes optical radiation for its internal operation. Any device that functions as an electrical-to-optical or optical-to-electrical transducer. Electro-optic often is used erroneously as a synonym.
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