Novel drug technology developed at the University of Hertfordshire
Fluid Pharma, in partnership with the University of Hertfordshire and IP Group, are developing a novel controlled-release liquid drug formulation which will transform drug intake methods for the elderly and dysphagia patients.
While controlled-release drug technology is available on the market, the liquid form is unique due to the nature of its developmental challenges.
“Fluid Pharma is a University of Hertfordshire spin-out company. We started with two technical staff, Pharmacy graduate Kavil Patel and another postdoctoral research fellow, who undertook technical development and data collection to aid the advancement of the product. After seeing the value of this research, we decided to build a HKEP project around it, which meant that it would contribute to a PhD for Kavil.”
“Kavil’s first year in the HKEP was solely industry based, focused towards him building on his understanding of the business, the product and its development. Following this initial year, he submitted a report outlining his research to date, and we were very impressed. It was clear that he had benefitted from his two years working in the industry as his growth and development was reflected in the quality of his work. This piece will contribute directly to the first chapter of his PhD thesis so it has benefitted the business and himself,” said Dr Liu.
Dr Liu has found the HKEP, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, to be extremely worthwhile for the company in providing tailored SME support to carry out R&D work. In particular, she appreciates how the programme bridges academia and commercial enterprise. “We’ve been able to learn and grow from having access to the specialist expertise of a PhD student, enabling us to combine their academic research with the commercial side of developing a product for market.”
For Kavil, the partnership has been extremely useful for his personal and professional development.
“I’ve also attended numerous industry-based conferences, exhibitions and seminars including Making Pharmaceuticals, the UK’s leading pharmaceutical conference – APS Pharm Sci, and the world-leading AAPS conference in the USA. I was able to showcase Fluid Pharma’s research which enabled us to put it into perspective with regard to how the industry is moving, and allowed me to get feedback from experts in the field which I could use to improve the development of our product.”
“Usually these opportunities are only available in the last year of a PhD, but I was able to do it in my first year which has been invaluable in helping me build my confidence early on.”
According to Dr Liu, now that the technical proof of concept of the technology is complete, the company will be moving into phase two, which will firstly involve undertaking industrial scaling up and pre-clinical bioequivalent modelling, leading to clinical trials. It will then enable them to take products to the market and license the controlled-release liquid formulation technology to pharmaceutical companies.
“This phase is all about raising capital through various channels of investment. All going to plan, our technology is set to be ready for market within 3-5 years.”