Prof. Erik Frijlink of the University of Groningen is able to earn tens of million dollars in royalties with new inhalers. He uses a large part of it again for new therapeutics for the treatment of tuberculosis, flu and Parkinson's disease. And the aim is also to develop an inhaler that can replace the EpiPen against allergy attacks. Well deserved attention in the Dagblad van het Noorden paper for the inhalor invention by professor Frijlink: read the whole article that appeared end of April in the Dagblad here.
Groningen invention is booming worldwide
Frijlink and his research group at the UMCG are developing special powder inhalers (puffs) to administer medication. He sold the rights of two of his inventions, the Genuair and the Twincer, to large pharmaceutical companies. On April 1, Circassia Pharmaceuticals, a global player in pulmonary disease medication, introduced the Duaklir Pressair® inhaler to the United States. ‘Our Groningen invention is really taking off. Worldwide’, says Frijlink. One quarter of the returns go to the university's patent fund, one quarter goes to the faculty, one part goes to the inventors themselves and an important part can be used by the researchers themselves for further research. ‘By financing my research from the royalties of patents, I can set up projects freely and independently. A fantastic luxury’, Frijlink says.
For example, he is researching new antibiotics that can combat TB (tuberculosis). Around 1.8 million people die each year from TB, worldwide. Frijlink hopes to be able to administer antibiotics to TB patients via inhalers.
But he also develops antibiotics to be used puffs against the so-called RS-Virus (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), a basically normal virus that kills some 115,000 children every year. ‘Deaths that can be averted with additional money to finance new research into better medicines or stable vaccines. The income from royalties offers me that opportunity’ Frijlink emphasizes. Frijlink is also working on a general vaccine against all types of flu and he is looking for more convenient ways to administer medicines for Parkinson's through puffs.
People are hesitant to inject themselves
He also has great expectations of clinical trials that will shortly commence towards an inhalation technique, the Cyclops, which should replace the EpiPen. Patients with severe forms of allergy should always carry an EpiPen in case they accidentally get something they are allergic to. They can then come into a so-called anaphylactic shock for which an injection with the EpiPen can be life-saving.
‘People often have a strong resistance to inject themselves’ says Frijlink. ‘That fear of punctures makes that they lose valuable times before they inject themselves, which means that the effect of the medicine is no longer optimal.’ The Cyclops is marketed by the company PIMS-E in Roden. The Carduso Capital investment fund is investing money in it. Carduso is a fund of, among others, NOM Investment & Development Agency for the Northern Netherlands, De Friesland Health Insurances and University of Groningen.
Source: DvhN, author Arend van Wijngaarden
Photo: Erik Frijlink. Copyright photo: University of Groningen