Australian researchers develop powerful inhaler set to revolutionize lung treatment


Collaboration between Australian researchers from the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research in Sydney and Australian pharmaceutical company Pharmaxis Ltd has resulted in the development of a high-tech disposable inhaler that allows chronic lung disease sufferers to take all their medications in one single puff.

Image credit: flickr User: jo
Image credit: flickr User: jo

According to the media release by Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, the pocket-size inhaler called Orbital® is the first of its kind to deliver such a high dose of medications in one hit. Although still in prototype form, the new product promises total elimination of the need for complicated and time-consuming capsule re-loading.

Orbital can be discarded after the patient takes several breaths of the medications in dry powder form, so no cleaning or maintenance is required. Patients suffering from lung infections and debilitating conditions like cystic fibrosis can administer their treatment in just a few seconds.

“At the moment, young Australians with cystic fibrosis must spend long periods each day taking their therapies in multiple doses by repeatedly loading, priming, inhaling and emptying their devices. This is obviously difficult for patients, particularly children, who are trying to get on with living a normal life, and it’s likely to discourage them from taking their medication at all,” said Woolcock’s Head of Respiratory Technology, Dr Paul Young.

“Given its capacity to deliver a very high dose, it could actually be used to treat a range of other common lung diseases like tuberculosis and pneumonia. That makes this a very exciting development indeed.”

The researchers tested the device with a number of medications including Pharmaxis’ Bronchitol® and found that Orbital successfully delivers a range of antibiotics and Bronchitol® together in one 400mg dose.

The research was published in this month’s edition of Journal of Aerosol Medicine and Pulmonary Drug Delivery ( The paper was co-authored by Woolcock researcher Daniela Traini, along with colleagues at the University of Sydney and Pharmaxis.

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