North Carolina Patent of the Month – October 2022
Nebulizing technology is crucial for dispensing medications in small volumes. Most commonly used in the treatment of asthma or to direct medication into the lungs, nebulizers must aerosolize and release small particles of the medication which starts in a liquid format. Unfortunately, most traditional nebulizers require a large starting volume of liquid as they are largely inefficient. In fact, studies have shown that as much as 50% of the starting liquid volume remains in the nebulizer, wasting a significant portion of the medication.
InspiRX, Inc., a biotechnology company, is focused on advancing respiratory research and development. Their first mission is to improve the overall quality of respiratory drug delivery – including nebulizers. They’ve developed a jet nebulizer that recycles the unused medication to improve efficiency.
The breath-enhanced jet nebulizer recycles the larger aerosol particles that would otherwise not effectively reach the alveolar region of the lungs. This recycled liquid can then be re-aerosolized to form smaller particles which can be effectively delivered to the lungs. This is achieved using a low liquid retention reservoir and narrow delivery passage. The effectively small aerosol particles are directed through an aerosol passage to be breathed in while the larger liquid particles are directed away and towards the liquid reservoir.
The design uses the patient’s own breath to better control medication dispensing. A one-way exhalation valve positioned in the mouthpiece and the negative pressure created by the patient’s breath ultimately leads to improved drug delivery and less drug loss. So, when a patient inhales through the opening of the mouthpiece, the inhalation valve opens. Ambient air flows through the valve, co-mingling with the aerosol particles to be breathed in. When the patient exhales into the mouthpiece, the exhalation valve is opened so that the respiratory air is discharged into surroundings instead. The inhalation valve is closed during exhalation, preventing aerosol particles from being vented into the surroundings.
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