Drug delivery specialists Merrion Biopharma has announced the opening of new facilities in Ireland, strengthening its position in the $24 billion oral drug delivery market and reinforcing the healthy state of the Irish pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry.
Merrion specialises in technologies that can provide oral forms of drugs currently only available as injections, providing benefits to both the patient and pressurized healthcare systems.
Merrion's technologies include GIPET, which facilitates better absorption of drugs into the body and GIRES, which releases drugs over an extended length of time into the stomach. The company's first products could be on the market by 2008.
Gastrointestinal Permeation Enhancement Technology (GIPET) improves delivery of poorly permeable compounds to the bloodstream after oral administration. The technology is based on application of any one of three distinct types of proprietary penetration enhancers, which improve the uptake of such drugs in the small intestine.
The GIPET delivery platform applies to both solid dosage forms and liquid-filled capsules. GIPET formulations do not require chemical modification of the active drug, and clinical safety studies have shown that the penetration enhancing effects are rapidly reversible.
The GIPET technologies are suited to a range of physical, chemical and therapeutic categories, including small molecules, macromolecules and biologics, and are broadly applicable over a wide range of existing and emerging drug products.
Gastrointestinal Retention System (GIRES) a gastro-retentive technology is targeted at therapeutics that have short biological half-lives and exhibit a narrow absorption window in the upper part of the small intestine. These drugs often require frequent dosing or produce unwanted side effects due to widely fluctuating blood drug levels.
GIRES technology consists of a controlled-release dosage form inside an inflatable pouch, placed in a drug capsule for oral administration. Upon dissolution of the capsule, a gas-generating system inflates the pouch in the stomach where it is retained for 16-24 hours, releasing medication.
Mike McKenna, chief executive officer at Merrion Pharmaceuticals, said: "Merrion provides oral drug delivery solutions to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. We are working to develop several new product opportunities in coagulation, osteoporosis, cancer, and urology."
"Merrion's overall portfolio includes 27 issued and in-process patents for the oral delivery of a wide variety of drugs and biologic products," he added.
When fully staffed, Merrion will employ 25 PhD and other qualified research specialists in Dublin.