Researchers at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine are exploring a way to deliver inhaled doses of anti-inflammatory ibuprofen directly to the lungs of people with cystic fibrosis.
It is known that ibuprofen can hinder the progression of the inherited lung disease, but taking high doses of the anti-inflammatory can cause gastrointestinal bleeding. In addition, when ibuprofen is taken in combination with antibiotics for lung infections, it can cause acute kidney injury.
Finding a way to deliver nanoparticles of the drug is critical because most people who struggle with the disease have shorter life spans, usually due to long-lasting lung infections caused by the patient’s inability to move bacteria and other particles up and out of the lungs.
Texas A&M‘s Dr. Carolyn Cannon and a team of research scientists are heading up the project.
Cannon said researchers who performed an original study thought the ibuprofen was working only by interfering with the migration of a type of white blood cell, called neutrophil, to the lung. Neutrophils go hand in hand with acute inflammation and are central to acute lung injury – but the high doses also showed antimicrobial properties.
“We feel that nanoparticle ibuprofen delivered by aerosol to the lungs would be a fantastic therapeutic,” Cannon said in a news release. And because it is fundamentally a repurposed drug, the processes of development and approval for the inhaled form should take less time than new therapies.
The inhaled ibuprofen will work in synergy with antibiotics currently used against bacterial lung infections in CF. Together, the medicines will kill pathogens much better than each does on their own.
The team is currently focused on obtaining global patent protection on the technology. They then hope to begin consultations with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Investigational New Drug (IND) status. Clinical trials will follow.
“We have several nanoparticle formulations, one of which, developed by our collaborator, Dr. Hugh Smyth at the University of Texas in Austin, is almost pure ibuprofen,” Dr. Cannon said. “We are excited about this formulation, but we still have to prove that it achieves our goal of high lung concentrations of the drug and low systemic concentrations.”
This summer, the team will begin experiments to deliver inhaled ibuprofen nanoparticles to animal models. The researchers will then measure the concentrations of the drug in the lungs and serum at different time points.
“This type of experiment addresses the pharmacokinetics of the drug and aims to investigate our hypothesis that we can achieve high local concentrations in the lung while maintaining low systemic concentrations,” Cannon said.
Using animal models, the team is also examining the capacity of ibuprofen for improving survival rates in pneumonia.