Innovation in Treatment of Chronic Lung Injuries: Dr. Ashish Bhatia’s Outlook

Paradigm − January 16, 2018 − filed under Events, General

In medical research, failures are never a total loss, because knowing why creations fail helps to develop more successful devices or drugs, Dr. Ashish Bhatia told Paradigm Outcomes’ eighth annual Innovation Symposium exploring outliers and medical innovation.

Dr. Bhatia said, in the past 10-12 years of his research with burns or trauma, only about 25 devices or drugs that he’s helped create have made it to market, and an additional 150 failed.

“The possibilities are found in working with scientists and bioengineers to see what they’re coming up with in their labs that could translate and help people in the clinic and at the bedside, and people that have had catastrophic injuries,” he said.

Serendipity in Smoke-Inhalation Treatment

“Most of the things that we work on really lead to happiness and joy. Those are the moments we wait for when we talk to these scientists,” said Dr Bhatia, an internationally recognized expert in healthcare innovation, involved in the inception and development of numerous drugs and devices.

About 25% of drugs in the market now were found serendipitously.  After receiving a call from a colleague, he began working on a drug for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) that wasn’t working out as planned.

As Dr. Bhatia learned more about this small protein, which has no side effects or toxicity and helps block both lung inflammation and secretion, he was reminded of his experience as an Emergency Medical Technician. Smoke-inhalation injury was often the cause of death and of long-term morbidity. These injuries are common and have devastating results.

“Supportive care is the only therapy you have left,” Bhatia said. “You give them fluids, manage, and hope they make it. If they do make it, a lot of them have lots of secondary issues. In workers’ comp, that can lead to a lot of claims and a lot of costs.”

Research on that drug first proposed for treating COPD concluded that when inhaled by mice with induced lung injury, it reverses lung disease progression, even when treatment is initiated well into the disease process.

“So, here’s a drug that was about to be killed. And now this is drug is probably going to change the course of history,” Dr. Bhatia said. “That’s the fun part, because when you work with the scientists, they don’t see these things, they don’t know these things, they don’t do the clinical side of it.”

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