Rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and a host of other conditions affecting millions of people are increasingly being treated by self-injection of biologic drugs. These are genetically engineered proteins derived from human genes, which are designed to inhibit the parts of the immune system that fuel inflammation.
Many of these medicinal products are viscous, so injecting them with a traditional syringe can be slow and painful because of their thick, sticky consistency. And the drugs often need to be refrigerated before use – so it takes time to safely warm them to room temperature before injection.
Product development firm Cambridge Consultants has developed a heated auto-injector concept which quickly warms medicine to body temperature (37°C) – reducing the viscosity and making it easier and quicker to deliver the dose. The technology has been coupled with innovative features and functions developed through the company’s industrial design and human factors expertise. The result is a device that is easy for patients to handle – even with limited dexterity.
The Aira reusable auto-injector features a large, easy-grip handle, and simple push-button mechanisms for automatically priming the device and delivering the injection. The syringe is loaded into the device with the cap on – making it safer and less frightening for the patient. The cap is only removed immediately prior to injection, with the needle out of sight within the device.
“Patients are increasingly able to manage arthritis and other conditions by injecting themselves with modern biological therapies,” said Iain Simpson, of the drug delivery device development team at Cambridge Consultants. “This technology will reduce the preparation and delivery time of injections, as well as the associated pain, by heating the medicines prior to use – offering the extra confidence and reassurance that is needed to ensure greater patient compliance for vital treatments.
“The technology guides the patient through the injection process – with audible, visual and tactile signals at each stage and the needle hidden from view – allowing the drug to be warmed from fridge to body temperature in less than one minute and then reducing the injection duration by up to 30 per cent.”
As well as being faster and easier to use, the new technology helps reduce the amount of discomfort associated with injecting drugs below body temperature – and could also help drugs disperse more rapidly into the body. Future applications of the technology could include cancer treatments, where there is an increasing trend towards self-administration.
Cambridge Consultants will be demonstrating Aira at PDA Europe, November 5-6, in Basel, Switzerland, stand 56.
Facts & figures
• Nearly 10 million people in Britain are blighted by arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is the more severe but less common form of the disease, affecting about 400,000 people
• Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the immune system attacks the joints. It causes pain and swelling, stiffness, fatigue and disability. There is currently no cure for the condition but biologic drugs are seen as a potential new way of relieving some of the symptoms
• Up to 40 per cent of people with rheumatoid arthritis lose their jobs within five years and each year up to 900,000 hospital appointments are needed