Local News

Asthma: New, Easy Inhalers May Be Coming

Posted October 3, 2002

— Researchers in the

Research Triangle Park

are designing an inhaler that is expected to be a breakthrough invention for people with asthma.

Scientists at Oriel Therapeutics in RTP call it the first smart inhaler. Traditional inhalers use aerosol propellants to release medicine.

Due to environmental concerns, these inhalers are being phased out. Researchers said some patients could have a hard time adjusting to the new powder inhalers.

"They're very accepted, but they actually have very inconsistent delivery," said Paul Atkins, the founder of Oriel Therapeutics.

Atkins said the smart inhaler controls and adjusts dosage, so the right amount is always released.

When a patient takes a breath, an electrical signal inside the inhaler turns the powder into an aerosol.

The inhaler monitors the inhalation flow and adjusts the energy level to propel a full dose of medication into the lungs.

"The patient would breathe normally and the energy would allow them to get the same dose every time independent of their effort," said Atkins.

Designers are working to finish the smart inhaler. Researchers expect to start testing it on patients in the next few months and then apply for

Food and Drug Administration

approval.

"It will be several years before the product is available on the market," said Atkins.

The original smart inhaler research came from

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

.

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