Needles' Days Are Numbered

Private companies and universities are developing new ways to deliver protein drugs.
Oct 02, 2010


Erik Greb
Patients who take biological drugs traditionally have had little choice but to submit to injections. Yet needlephobes should take heart. Several partnerships are developing other ways to deliver large molecules that seem to show promise.

Nanomedicine manufacturer Midatech Group (Oxford, England) and drug-delivery company MonoSol Rx (Warren, NJ) recently filed a provisional US patent application for Nanoparticle Film Delivery Systems that could transmit proteins and peptides through buccal or sublingual administration. The delivery system bypasses the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and sends medicine directly into the bloodstream. This mechanism could reduce side effects and prevent the GI tract from destroying the therapy.

More recently, the Georgia Institute of Technology gave Vyteris (Fair Lawn, NJ) the option to exclusively license its patented thermal-ablation and microdevice-fabrication technologies for transdermal drug delivery. The technology was developed to enhance skin permeation to the point where drugs with high molecular weight could be administered without injections or infusions.

These and other new technologies could one day challenge the dominance of injections as a method for administering vaccines. Considering how rapidly the market for vaccines is growing, drugmakers would do well to take notice of these exciting developments. Vaccinations might soon become as painless as freshening the breath with an oral strip. Maybe needles' days are numbered.

Erik Greb is an assistant editor of Pharmaceutical Technology.