Lacerta Bio was privileged to give a short talk at the first (and hopefully annual) Drug Delivery Summit in London late last month. While lightly attended, the two-day conference brought several important points to light.
First, drug delivery is truly alive and well. Several speakers from multinational pharmaceutical companies illustrated how formulation innovation can be used to advance NCEs, such as siRNA. Even more established delivery techniques, such as peptide and protein controlled release via PEGylation, can be improved upon in order to yield safety and efficacy benefits. In fact, siRNA is a good example of a class of molecules which could yield tremendous clinical benefits if and when their delivery issues are sorted out.
Second, established methods of formulation screening and assessment may be poor proxies for physiologic realities. For example, standard dissolution methods, such as tablet disintegration and dissolution, do not reflect the dynamic nature of the gastrointestinal tract. Further, various disease states, such as AIDS, can impact GI tract homeostasis, which in turn can cause differences in drug absorption and pharmacokinetics. What this clearly reminds us is that drug formulation, no matter how routine it may seem, will always run into unique situations which may require creating unique drug delivery formulation and/or testing solutions to resolve.
Third, talks on colonic and inhalation drug delivery illustrated how important these can be in order to deliver local and systemic therapeutic benefits. For example, it was suggested that inhalation may be a viable route for the systemic delivery of siRNA, a topic which is frequently discussed in the literature.
Overall, we left the conference with the impression that pharmaceutical companies continue to be actively involved in drug delivery, especially with complex molecules such as siRNA, where formulation and delivery remain a challenge. We were also impressed by the level of applied drug delivery research being conducted both in academia and multinational pharmaceutical companies. As these pharmaceutical companies continue to run into formulation and delivery problems with siRNA or other complex molecules, drug delivery companies with robust technologies that can solve these problems will be well positioned to capitalize on these development opportunities.