How a New Device Could Ease the Pain of Biologics

Takeda Pharmaceutical and Portal Instruments are teaming up to develop a new device to deliver drugs through a pressurized liquid, potentially eliminating the need for needle-based injections.

Portal Instruments is developing a device designed to deliver biologic drugs through the use of a pressurized liquid instead of through standard needle-based injections.

Portal Instruments

Portal Instruments, a new medical device startup out of Cambridge, MA, announced a partnership this week with Japanese pharmaceutical giant Takeda to develop a new needle-free drug delivery device to help treat chronic conditions. The new device has the potential to treat a wide range of conditions that require drugs to be injected through a needle, specifically GI diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

The partnership will combine Portal's delivery device with Takeda's investigational or approved biologic medicines. The technology is designed to deliver drugs through the use of a pressurized liquid, which has been clinically shown to be less painful compared to standard needle-based injections. The device comes with a computer-controlled system that automatically adjusts for changes in the drug’s viscosity to deliver a precise 1 ml dose of drugs in just half a second. The device can even be used by patients in their own home, providing patients with a simple solution for self-administered treatments without requiring physician assistance.

Portal will receive initial funding from Takeda, with the potential to earn additional payments of up to $100 million subject to the achievement of specified development, regulatory, and sales-based milestones. Portal also plans to utilize Takeda’s R&D team to help introduce the technology to patients and begin to grow the platform.

Stefan Koenig, global program and brand lead at Takeda Pharmaceutical, said in a press release this week that the new partnership will help support patients with chronic conditions by evolving the treatment and management of their disease without the pains of needle-based injections.

“There is a need for options to keep improving the experience for patients with life-long, chronic conditions that are managed with intravenous infusions of biologic medicines,” he said. “This partnership with Portal demonstrates Takeda’s leadership in supporting patients with GI diseases, and our commitment to evolve the management of these diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, by potentially offering patients the ability to administer treatment in their own home with a needle-free system.”

The technology was originally developed at MIT by Ian Hunter, a professor of thermodynamics, who was looking to design a device that could successfully deliver drugs without the use of needles. The result was a new device that could deliver virtually any biological medicine that currently requires administration through an injection.

Researchers have already begun investigational testing with Entyvio, a monoclonal antibody used on adults with moderately to severely active ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. The drug is typically administered through intravenous infusion, but a current clinical trial program is currently evaluating the safety and efficacy of administering the drug using the new device.

The two companies expect the new technology to provide patients with a simple, fast, and pain-free drug delivery system in their own home, while completely eliminating the need for handling and disposing of needles.

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