Researchers from Columbia Engineering and Columbia University Medical Center have created a new method that can target delivery of small volumes of drugs into the lungs. According to HealthCanal, the approach, which involves micro-liters of liquid containing a drug instilled into the lung and distributed as a thin film in the predetermined area of the lung airway and absorbed locally, may provide a more effective treatment for lung disease. The news report notes that lung diseases could be more effectively treated if the selected drug could be delivered locally to the lung site and at the exact dose needed for treatment.

The primary challenge for the researchers was the complexity of the lung structure that provides the vital function oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange with the blood. Jinho Kim, a postdoctoral fellow, studied liquid plugs in simple glass tubes and developed a mathematical model describing liquid transport process in each generation of the airway tree, which was used to determine the liquid plug volume and the parameters of programmed ventilation for delivery into a specific lung region.

The HealthCanal news report indicates the model predictions were confirmed by demonstrating targeted fluid film deposition in ventilated lungs.

Kim states, “Liquid instillation has been used for providing lung surfactant to the entire lungs in premature infants who cannot produce enough surfactant to breathe normally. Although liquid instillation has great therapeutic potential, its applications have been unexplored, largely because of limited understanding of the liquid transport in the lung airways. We are very excited about the implications of our work.”

Next, the researchers plan to demonstrate treatment of lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis by delivering pulmonary drugs using their liquid instillation approach, according to HealthCanal.

Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, lead author of the study, says, “We envision that our micro-volume liquid instillation approach will enable predictable drug concentrations at the target site, reducing the amount of drug required for effective disease treatment with significantly reduced side effects.”

“We are fascinated by the opportunities that bioengineering approaches offer to more effectively treat lung disease,” Vunjak-Novakovic adds. “Four years ago, we started research of lung regeneration using stem cells and bioengineering methods. And we continue to work with our clinical colleagues to develop new treatment approaches for treating lung disease.”

Source: HealthCanal