Graduation Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisory Committee

Ananth V. Annapragada, PhD (Chairman); Kim Dunn, MD, PhD; Elmer Bernstam, MD, MSE, MS; Ramanan Krishnamoorti, PhD


Agglomerated Vesicle Technology (AVT); Insulin/administration & dosage; Administration, Inhalation


The Pulmonary route has been traditionally used to treat diseases of the respiratory tract. However, important research within the last two decades have shown that in addition to treating local diseases, a wide range of systemic diseases can be treated by delivering drugs to the lungs. The recent FDA approval to market Exubera, an inhalable form of insulin developed by Pfizer, to treat Diabetes, may just be the stepping stone that the pharmaceutical industry needs to market other drugs to treat systemic diseases via the lungs. However, this technology still needs repeated drug doses to control glucose levels, as the inhaled drug is cleared rapidly. Technologies have been developed where inhaled particles are capable of controlled release of drug from the lungs. An important feature of these technologies is the large geometric size of the particles that makes it difficult for the lung macrophages to clear these particles, which results in longer residence times for the particles in the lungs. Owing to the porosity, these particles have lower densities making them deliverable to the deep lungs. However, no modulation of drug release can be achieved with these technologies when more drug release may be required. This additional requirement can only be assuaged by additional dosing of the drug formulation, which can have undesirable effects due to excess loading of excipients in the lungs.

In an attempt to bring about modulation of release from long residence time particles, a novel concept was developed in our laboratory that has been termed as the Agglomerated Vesicle Technology (AVT). Liposomes with encapsulated drug were agglomerated using well known cross linking chemistries to form agglomerates in the micron sized range. The large particles exhibited aerodynamic sizes in the respirable size range with minimal damage to the particles upon nebulization. By breaking the cross links between the liposomes with a cleaving agent, it was anticipated that triggered release of drug from the AVT particles could be achieved. In vivo studies done in healthy rabbits showed that post-administration modulation of drug release is possible from the AVT particles after the introduction of the cleaving agent.

This study has important implications for the future development of this technology, where the AVT particles can be made “sensitive” to the product of disease. It is envisaged that a single dose of AVT containing the appropriate drug when administered to the lungs would maintain drug levels at a controlled rate over an extended period of time. When the need for more drug arises, the product of the disease would trigger the AVT particles to release more drug as needed to control the condition, thus eliminating the need for repeated drug doses and improved compliance amongst patients.

R Bhavanne8-06.pdf (4278 kB)
Higher-resolution pdf