Breathing Easier

Published on: 
Pharmaceutical Technology, Pharmaceutical Technology, November 2023, Volume 47, Issue 11
Pages: 6

A novel approach for safety assessments in inhalation drugs may avoid animal testing for drug products.

Ensuring drugs are safe when administered is of utmost importance to the pharma industry. For inhalation drugs, there are strict regulations that must be followed to ensure the drug can be inhaled safely and without any negative or damaging effects. Currently, animal models are commonly used for the safety assessments of inhalation drugs; however, such models are not accurate at predicting how the drug will interact in a human. Another technique for safety assessment is the use of human cells that are taken by lung scraping, which is an invasive process and only provides tissue from the upper lung.

To overcome the limitations of the current approaches, a three-dimensional (3D) human lung model has been developed. The approach, which was originally developed by Abigail Martin while she was working on her PhD research at the University of Hertfordshire, involves the growth of human lower lung tissue and immune cells in a laboratory so that a 3D model can be created. The model can then be used in the place of animal testing and allow companies to test the impact of their drug product on the small airways and inflammation in the lung in a reproducible and more reliable way.


“Having worked on drug development projects that involve animal testing, I’ve seen the difference that new drugs can make to patients’ lives. However, I felt there had to be a better way and set out to look for an alternative,” explained Martin in a press release (1). “Our model not only enables companies to move away from animal testing but also improves safety for patients too. We look forward to working with many more clients and scaling the business with a view to global expansion in the future.”

After having developed the model, Martin collaborated with her PhD supervisor, Victoria Hutter, to set up the company ImmuONE. In efforts to scale up and expand their operations, Martin and Hutter have managed to raise £2 million in investment, securing backing from the MEIF Proof of Concept and Early Stage Fund, which is managed by Mercia Ventures and part of the Midlands Engine Investment Fund.

Hopefully, with this novel approach for safety assessments in inhalation drugs gaining traction, industry can move closer to a future where animal testing is avoided completely for drug products.


  1. ImmunONE. Scientists Raise £2M for 3D Human Lung Model to Replace Animal Testing., News Release, 26 Oct. 2023.

About the author

Felicity Thomas is editor of Pharmaceutical Technology Europe and senior editor of Pharmaceutical Technology,

Article details

Pharmaceutical Technology Europe
Vol. 35, No. 11
November 2023
Page: 6


When referring to this article, please cite it as Thomas, F. Breathing Easier. Pharmaceutical Technology Europe 2023 35 (11).