AFT Pharmaceuticals, has announced that its pipeline medical device, a next generation nebuliser, is ready to enter the pilot scale manufacturing stage ahead of clinical trials next year.
Nebulisers are used to administer medications to patients. Traditional nebulisers work by converting medication into a mist that patients inhale into their lungs. AFT’s new nebuliser, tentatively named the SURF Nebuliser, is different because the medicine directly targets a patient’s sinus areas. It has attracted international interest because of the novel technology that underpins the device. The SURF Nebuliser is powered by a unique delivery technology licensed from a Russian scientist and further developed by AFT.
According to the Managing Director of AFT, Dr Hartley Atkinson, the SURF Nebuliser is a good example of why the company is floating on the NZX Main Board and ASX, with the priority offer closing on Wednesday 16 December.
“This device is potentially a game-changer for people who suffer from chronic sinusitis,” says Dr Atkinson. “The key for us is getting this product to market as quickly as we can. Ideally this will be in New Zealand, Australia, the US, and the European Union in 2017. Some of the funds raised from the float will go directly into the manufacture, trial, and commercialising of products like the SURF Nebuliser to make sure we take full advantage of the opportunities our R&D team are creating.”
The international market for the SURF Nebuliser is potentially large given the number of people who suffer from chronic sinusitis. Chronic sinusitis affects millions of people around the world. In the US alone, around 12 million visits to physicians result in a primary diagnosis of chronic sinusitis.
“People with chronic sinusitis have severely inflamed lining of their nasal sinuses for an extended period,” says Dr Atkinson. “The problem is that traditional nebulisers and nasal sprays tend to be ineffective in getting medication into the sinuses. But the lab trials we’ve completed in Australia show that the SURF Nebuliser has a remarkably high penetration of sinus areas. Results also show its delivery rate of medication is 20 times greater compared to existing larger nebulisers. Basically this means the medicine can get into the sinus, much faster.”
“Another reason why we’re really excited about the SURF Nebuliser is that it can potentially go beyond treating just chronic sinusitis. Because it rapidly delivers medicines with high nasal penetration, the SURF Nebuliser can conceivably be used to deliver a whole range of medicines across a variety of medical conditions, all delivered in a measured dose through the nose. This might mean, for example, that some patients can avoid having to take injections for some medicines.”
The other unique feature of the device is that it is compact and portable with its own power supply. By contrast, traditional nebulisers are bulky and must be plugged in to a power socket. Not only does this add a convenience factor, it also means the SURF Nebuliser is not limited to use in hospitals, and can be used by people at home or work.
Dr Atkinson says that the entry of the device into pilot scale manufacture is timely given that the priority share offer closes this Wednesday. “We’ve had a good response so far from institutions, and we’re very pleased with the level of interest to date under the priority offer. About one third of the applications to date for shares under the priority offer have come from Australia, with the remainder from New Zealand. I suspect that people who are investing have an understanding that even though the costs of bringing pharma products like the SURF Nebuliser to market can be significant, the worldwide sales and licensing opportunities can be just as significant if you get it right.”
 Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, USA: www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/sinuses.htm