Meeting the East: ISAB CSO Per Gerde at Inhalation Asia
ISAB CSO Per Gerde travelled to Shenyang, China in September to deliver a keynote address at Inhalation Asia 2015, the region’s major conference for scientists and developers in pulmonary drug delivery, held at Shenyang Pharmaceutical University. He discovered a region thriving with new innovation, therapies and products. What were his impressions?
Many of us know that Asia, and Chine in particular, has fast-growing cases of asthma and COPD. The World Health Organization estimates that over 30 million Chinese people suffer from asthma, and with air pollution growing in tandem with the population this is set to rise. What fewer know though is the dynamic and innovative work of the region’s pharma industry and academic research institutes – who have built an exciting pipeline of new research, therapies and innovation.
In September 2015 ISAB CSO Per Gerde flew to Shenyang, China to deliver a keynote speech at Inhalation Asia, the region’s largest conference for scientists and drug developers in pulmonary and intranasal drug delivery to share and showcase their research, ideas, products and services.
“It was a fascinating and exciting event and an honour to speak there,” says Gerde. “Both academically and commercially it was obvious straightaway that this is a highly innovative region. There are a growing number of new therapies and devices, a lot of development, and both public and state awareness of the effects of growing air pollution, the need for air pollution control, and for new therapies to address it.”
IVIVC in Asia
Dr Gerde’s keynote – “Aerosol dissolution: Breaking through the in vitro–in vivo barrier” showed how ISAB’s in vitro module DissolvIt simulates in vivo absorption and dissolution in the lungs – generating kinetic data, including Tmax and Cmax curves and particle size distribution, extraordinarily close to in vivo data. For scientists in early stages of development the technique offers a powerful roadblock to future clinical setbacks. Did it attract the interest of Asian developers and scientists?
“Of course!” says Gerde. “The Asian market faces the same challenges as the rest of us – to meet market acceptance we have to pass the clinical stage as effectively as possible – whether it’s through the FDA in the US or the CFDA in China. Scientists recognize the need there as here. They have the same growing interest in IVIVC – simply put, it’s not enough anymore to just bake the same powder and hope it will produce the same results in the clinic later on. Reliable, predictive data early on is key. Along with growing cases of asthma and COPD, there is growing public awareness of the adverse effect of tobacco smoking and air pollution. When I was in Beijing, for example, you hardly saw a 2-stroke scooter in the rush hour, electric scooters were everywhere. The amount of new therapies and products already coming onto the market in China is impressive. Whether it’s pharmaceutics, clinical, PK or PD or chemical analysis– this is an industry firmly on top of developments. There is a lot of work on generic therapies, with patents moving offline soon, but I also met scientists working on Nanoparticle technologies or general air pollution problems. Innovation is ongoing everywhere.”
Would a state-of-the-art technology like DissolvIt be affordable and cost-effective for Asian companies?
“Absolutely!” says Gerde. “The Asian market faces the same challenges we all do. When I talked to Dr. Philippe Rogueda, one of the Directors of Inhalation Asia it was clear how dynamic the whole region is. I probably saw more upmarket cars whilst walking around one of the city centre districts in Beijing than I do in Stockholm. Shenyang campus too is surrounded by prosperous housing projects – there is a very well established middle class here, and healthcare needs and resources waiting to be served. And it’s not only China – I also talked to colleagues with fascinating projects in India and Bangladesh too, for example. I look forward greatly to ISAB continuing to build collaboration throughout the region.”
The Chinese Asthma and COPD market is growing rapidly, with a CAGR of 22.5% over the past five years. Organizations like the non-profit Inhalation Drug Delivery Association (IDDA), founded in 2013 are firmly established and other pharma symposia on inhalation are well attended, with growing innovation in the region.
Inhalation Asia has a robust open door policy on presentations and publications delivered at the Conference. To see Dr Gerde’s Inhalation Asia presentation, register on the Inhalation Asia website here – go to ‘publications’ and enter “Gerde” in the “search by author” field.