Sandy Munro, VP Pharmaceutical Development, introduces Vectura’s Science Live campaign, the work of his nebuliser product development team and the unique capabilities they bring to the company. This includes the pharmaceutical development of Vectura’s portfolio of nebuliser products, work which involves bringing the device together with the formulation to create the product the patient will use. The team brings together a collaborative mix of skills and expertise, from formulation development and technology to analytics and product development.
“One thing that’s really special about Vectura as a company is that we are able to bring together all of the elements that comprise the product for the patient,” said Sandy. “Many companies struggle because they don’t have all the bits of the jigsaw required to create a full product, but we’re able to develop and take a product through every stage of development.”
The key ingredient in providing this end-to-end development process is collaboration, according to Sandy. “It’s one of the things that maximises our probability of success in what is a technically a very difficult area. If you don’t have all the disciplines working together, it is hard to solve the problems that occur along the way,” he said. An example of a key contributor to the process of collaboration can be seen in the role played by the analytical scientists, who Sandy describes as often the “unsung heroes” in the team.
“We have a comprehensive and highly expert analytical capability in the team and across pharmaceutical development and virtually all decisions in the physical product development are made based on data generated from their analyses,” he said. “If the methods or analysis is bad, then the decisions will be bad. That’s why our analytical capability is such a key aspect of the product development collaboration process”.
Despite the strength of capabilities in the nebuliser team, challenges are never far away – from the differences in regulatory expectations that there can be across the territories, or because our nebuliser devices incorporate smart technologies. “We need to develop novel testing methodologies for them or the fact that we need to collaborate with procurement to identify new commercial suppliers for the formulated product”, said Sandy. Then there is the challenge of finding and defending intellectual property in a crowded field.
“There are challenges everywhere, but Vectura is one of a very limited number of companies globally outside of the big pharma organisations that has shown that it can succeed in this area. We are probably unique in what we can do.”
Bringing science to improve patient’s lives
Being patient focused is very important in Vectura and this is true in Sandy’s area. “Our people have deep technical expertise, but one of the reasons they also end up in medicines development is because they feel they are helping to save lives or helping people to live better lives. I think everybody feels that connection and that they are doing something worthwhile.”
Sandy is one of the leaders behind Vectura’s new Science Live campaign, designed to raise awareness and celebrate the role of the company’s products in patients’ lives. The campaign is being driven by a core team representing each of Vectura’s functions and sites, who are responsible for a programme of events, podcasts and digital content to showcase the science taking place across Vectura, connecting teams with patients and industry experts to spark debate and catalyse innovation*. “It is important that we continue to get close to patients and caregivers to understand their needs,” said Sandy. “It helps us to come up with products that will hit the spot and address that unmet need. That’s what Science Live is all about.”
Innovations in nebuliser technology
So what are the priorities in the Pharmaceutical Development nebuliser team at the moment? According to Sandy, the late-stage VR647 and VR475 programmes are the highest profile, but there are also the VEnT programmes, which make use of established molecules delivered via our smart nebuliser technology to dramatically enhance lung delivery. There are other exciting innovations too. “We’re working with FLUIDDA®, a Belgian company,who can create 3D computer models of real patient’s lungs. We can expose those lungs, in-silico, to the aerosols coming from our devices to allow us to predict lung deposition for our technologies versus a standard product. It gives us a window into how superior our products can be”, said Sandy.
It’s this day to day variation that Sandy values in working at Vectura. “I’ve always enjoyed the breadth of things you can get involved in here,” he said. “When you work for a smaller company you can see much more of the development process and have a say in more things. It makes life so much more interesting!”
*Leading the Science Live campaign are: Sandy Munro, VP Pharmaceutical Development; Bernhard Muellinger, VP Inhalatin Technology; Anna Ribera, Director of Medical Affairs; Christina Olsen, SVP Commercial Strategy and Evaluation; Karen MacGregor, SVP Industrialisation, Manufacturing & Supply; Gary Burgess, VP Medical; Manfred Fischer, VP Pharmaceutical Development; David Ginivan, VP Communications.