Irès van der Zwaan paves the way for new inhaled drugs

2021-12-15

“The diversity that characterizes SweDeliver is inspiring to be part of,” states Irès van der Zwaan, PhD student at Uppsala University’s Faculty of Pharmacy aiming to develop a new system for controlled release of drugs in the lung.

Irès van der Zwaan, PhD student, Faculty of Pharmacy
Irès van der Zwaan, PhD student, Faculty of Pharmacy

Pulmonary drug delivery – administration of drugs to the lungs – is central to treat or prevent, among other things, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Here we also find potential to deliver biopharmaceuticals such as insulin and vaccines, but there is still a pronounced need for fundamental understanding of factors governing the release, dissolution and absorption of drugs in the lung. With SweDeliver, research in pulmonary drug delivery has advanced at Uppsala University's Faculty of Pharmacy, and in an ongoing PhD project, Irès van der Zwaan is developing a new system for controlled release of drugs in the lung.

“We create, survey and evaluate new experimental methods and mathematical models for assessment, analysis and prediction of pulmonary drug delivery. In the near future, we hope to contribute to new formulations for inhaled drugs, which in turn can pave the way for novel therapeutic opportunities as well as extended effects of the drug.”

Irès van der Zwaan, SweDeliver
Irès van der Zwaan, SweDeliver

Irès van der Zwaan received her master degree in Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2017 from Leiden University (NL). The following spring, she joined SweDeliver and Professor Göran Frenning's research group in pharmaceutical physics, an experience she describes as challenging but, above all, valuable.

“As a junior researcher at SweDeliver, you work at the intersection of academia and industry. Both approaches and priorities differ between these two cultures, and constantly adjusting to different perspectives in my PhD project can at times be demanding, but is a lesson I will certainly benefit greatly from in the future.”

SweDeliver's research program in pulmonary drug delivery responds to challenges defined in direct dialogue with the center's industrial partners. It is an interdisciplinary collaboration that arouses interest far beyond Sweden's borders, and the PhD students and postdocs recruited to date are of many different nationalities.

“The diversity that characterizes SweDeliver generates extremely important synergy effects. Partly due to the international research environment, but also because of the companies and projects that meet and interact. It is inspiring to be part of and provides opportunities for everyone involved to learn from each other,” states Irès van der Zwaan.

This setup has proved successful. The team has already published several significant studies. Most recently in November they reported in the scientific journal Pharmaceutics about the possibilities to use spray drying to produce inhalation powders from hyaluronic acid hydrogels – a method that might prove an important contribution to achieve controlled release pulmonary drug delivery.

“The fact that SweDeliver's industrial partners continuously add their knowledge contributes greatly to our progress in the lab and will hopefully also help streamline the process of bringing our solutions to the market. With my mind set on a career in the international pharmaceutical industry, SweDeliver is truly the perfect environment for me to pursue my PhD studies in.”

FACTS

  • SweDeliver’s research in pulmonary drug delivery focuses on controlled release, dissolution and absorption of drugs in the lungs and powder mechanics of adhesive mixtures useful for inhalation.
  • This research draws on the strong scientific expertise on particle performance within the pharmaceutical technology and pharmaceutical physics groups at Uppsala University.

MORE INFORMATION

CONTACT

Ires van der Zwaan, PhD studentIres van der Zwaan, PhD student
Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences
ires.vanderzwaan@farmbio.uu.se

text: Magnus Alsne, photo: Mikael Wallerstedt

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Last modified: 2022-03-31