What if medicines injected by millions could be delivered in tablets? Our research and development (R&D) team is finding answers to this enduring question. Chief Scientific Officer Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen is leading the way and here he reflects on the magnitude of the scientific challenge and the progress made in his laboratories.
Executive vice president and chief scientific officer (CSO)
While pursuing the future of oral peptide therapy, we’ve also turned our hand to the delivery of even bigger protein molecules via a tablet. People who rely on growth hormones, clotting factors or antibodies are no different to people with diabetes in that they would of course prefer to take their medicines orally. We’re not as close to fulfilling this goal, but we’re very excited by the progress we’ve made in collaboration with Professor Robert Langer and his team at MIT.
Together, we’ve developed a tablet that once swallowed, self-rights against the wall of the stomach allowing penetration by a tiny needle made of solid drug molecules. The self-righting aspect of this technology is the result of some incredible micro-engineering initially inspired by the leopard tortoise and its ability to always find its feet thanks to the shape of its shell. Using this technology, we’ve successfully delivered insulin in animals and, although it is very early days in our research, our hope is that it could one day deliver molecules regardless of their size including clotting factor for the treatment of haemophilia or growth hormones.
These are exactly the types of dreams and ambitions that I always want to see in our R&D organisation. We want and need to aspire to go way beyond where we are today. Scientists thrive on that challenge – to take on something that people think can’t be done.
In pursuing our ambitions, we have transitioned from only researching and developing injectables to recruiting some of the most talented scientists in the field of oral drug delivery.
The task is extremely challenging and represents one of our
company’s biggest projects in recent years. But my hope is that it
won’t be too long before the portfolio of treatments that we can offer
to people living with serious chronic diseases includes a variety of
oral treatments alongside our established and important injectable
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Pittard, Corporate Editor.