Pharmaceutical companies go beyond the basic challenges of developing more effective drugs in more varied forms: They look to researchers to engineer ways to deliver the drug more effectively. The correct dosage to the right location is critical not just from safety, convenience and efficacy standpoints, but from a cost-cutting perspective in this time of rising healthcare costs.
Drug potency is affected by its delivery system as well as the length of time it takes to get the drug to the affected region in the body. Efficient new methods of delivery have the potential to reduce dosages and side effects related to unintended but widespread dispersion of the drug.
Courtesy Intelligent Light.
The comprehensive multiphysics available in ANSYS software enable designers to create a virtual model of a drug-dispensing device that considers parameters such as particle size, composition and flow as well as human physiology. Healthcare professionals can gain insight into how the drug reacts within the device and how efficiently it travels to the targeted area of the body, leading to drug and device optimization.
Delivering drugs directly to the site of pain is a growing field — especially for very expensive drugs. For example, pain medication delivered directly to the spine decreases the amount of time a drug travels through the body. However, the transport environment in the spinal cord must be taken into account when designing direct-infusion therapies. By combining medical imaging with fluid dynamics analysis, researchers can develop methods for predicting drug distribution.
Using this same model, healthcare professionals can further analyze the effectiveness of different injection protocols, such as continuous vs. discontinuous injections or the effect of injection site on drug distribution. Image-based modeling could lead to customized medical care that inherently factors in patient-specific physiological differences.
The current best example is the development of drugs that can be inhaled rather than injected. Pharmaceutical researchers use ANSYS software on the cutting edge of developing a delivery system for dry powder inhalers, or DPIs. Using fluid dynamics simulations, researchers have been able to understand how the inhaler works and improve its performance, ensuring that as much of the drug as possible gets to body’s exact site. Virtual simulation is now being used to guide device design modifications.
The virtual model of drug delivery allows doctors to evaluate and optimize device design, as well as to consider patient-specific geometries. Put together, these efforts will go a long way toward reducing the time to market as well as the costs of testing and certification.
Courtesy BD Technologies and ICEM CFD Engineering.
Courtesy A.C. Ghigny.