The Belgium start-up Aquilon Pharmaceuticals S.A., founded in 2013, developed an excipient technology that improves significantly the efficacy of known inhaled drugs and can make other drugs available by inhalation. The obtained formulation improves the aerodynamic properties of the drugs and enhances both the lung deposition and the pharmacology of existing drugs for asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
‘Aquilon wants to play an important role in the next generation inhalation technology by improving the efficacy of inhaled drugs and by making existing drugs inhalable. Currently, lung deposition of inhaled drugs is poor because particles mainly stick to the bronchus. Consequently, high daily doses are recommended and increase the risk of local side effects’, says Ludivine Petit, COO of Aquilon.
HP-Betadex is the basis of a formulation platform for all compounds, both as liquids and as dry powders. It solubilizes the active ingredients in water and makes the blend homogeneous, which can be used in any types of nebulizers. In dry powder formulations, it leads to particles with ideal flow characteristics and flight trajectory, thanks to their golf-ball shape. The aerodynamic properties of the nebulized droplets and the dry powder particles ensure drug deposition in the deep lung, where maximal bioavailability is guaranteed. Furthermore, it will allow making other known drugs inhalable.
Preclinical studies showed that improved pharmacology results in better clinical efficacy for the essential class of asthma/COPD drugs, in this case budesonide, an inhaled corticosteroid (ICS). Moreover, the new GINA guidelines for the treatment of asthma (2019) recommend a new fixed combination of low dose ICS and Formoterol. ‘Currently, Aquilon is the only development company capable of formulating an Ultra-Low Dose Budesonide-Formoterol for lung delivery through SoftMist’, explains Ludivine Petit.
More than 6 percent of the worldwide population suffers from COPD or asthma and the percentage will grow to reach 8%. The markets are growing faster than the prediction: worldwide, the markets, valued to 35 billion dollars in 2015, are estimated to rise to 50 billion dollars in 2025. In the treatment field, an increase from 12.25 billion dollars to 20 billion dollars is expected for dry powder inhalators, and from 5.25 billion dollars to 7.5 billion dollars for nebulizers. Aquilon Pharma will be a player in the full market.