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J Pharmacovigil. 2014 Mar 1;2(1):118.

Gaining the Upper Hand on Pulmonary Drug Delivery.

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1
Cystic Fibrosis/Pulmonary Research and Treatment Center, North Carolina, USA.
2
Cystic Fibrosis/Pulmonary Research and Treatment Center, North Carolina, USA ; Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, University of North Carolina, North Carolina, USA.

Abstract

Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Cystic Fibrosis (CF) are all pulmonary diseases which are characterized by chronic inflammation and an increase in mucus production. Excess mucus in the airways correlates with pathophysiology such as a decline in lung function and prolonged bacterial infections. New drugs to treat these chronic respiratory diseases are currently being developed and include both inhaled and orally administered compounds. Whilst oral drugs may be easier to administer, they are more prone to side-effects due to higher bioavailability. Inhaled compounds may show reduced bioavailability, but face their own unique challenges. For example, thick mucus in the respiratory tracts of asthma, CF and COPD patients can act as a physical barrier that impedes drug delivery. Mucus also contains a high number of enzymes and proteases that may degrade compounds before they reach their site of action. Furthermore, some classes of drugs are rapidly absorbed across the respiratory epithelia into systemic circulation, which may limit their duration of action and/or cause off-target effects. This review discusses some of the different treatment options that are currently available and the considerations that need to be taken into account to produce new therapies for the treatment of chronic respiratory diseases.

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