Airway delivery of therapeutic enzymes for the treatment of Acute Lung Injury

Life Sciences : Drug Delivery

Available for non-exclusive licensing


  • Robert Williams III, Ph.D. , College of Pharmacy
  • Steven Idell, M.D. , University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler

Background/unmet need

Many patients with severe burns and smoke exposure develop a severe form of acute lung injury (ALI) called acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) that is associated with a mortality of 30 to 40 percent, protracted hospitalization, and long-term morbidity. Inhalational smoke-induced ALI (ISALI) is characterized by severe airway obstruction, fibrinous airway casts or debris, and alveolar fibrin deposition. Effective, specific treatment for ISALI is now lacking.

Burn injuries affect over a million patients in the United States annually, and ISALI affects thousands of smoke-exposed patients in civilian and military practice annually [Enkhbaatar & Traber (2004) Clin.Sci.(Lond). 107:137-143]. ISALI contributes to more than 3,000 deaths and 17,000 fire-related injuries in the United States annually and a fire-related mortality rate of 2 to 3 per 100,000 population, which is one of the highest in the developed world [Committee on injury and 15 poison prevention (2000) Pediatrics 105:1355-1357]. Supportive care is suboptimal, protracted, and expensive. Outcomes entail significant mortality and morbidity. Despite current supportive care including mechanical ventilation, the mortality rate of ARDS, including that associated with ISALI, approaches 30 to 40 percent [Phua et al. (2009) Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 179:220-227].

Invention Description

UT Austin researcher Dr. Bill Williams, the Johnson & Johnson Centennial Chair in Pharmacy, has teamed up with Dr. Steven Idell of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler to devise a new method that allows for therapeutic enzymes to be aerosolized without losing a critical amount of their activity. This enables an entirely new treatment method for ISALI which includes administering a therapeutic enzyme via an airway.


    Provides an effective and specific treatment option for this currently unmet medical need


  • Enables controlled and standardized delivery
  • Achieves the highest enzymatic activity levels for any aerosolized enzyme

Market potential/applications

Treatment of acute lung injury 

Development Stage

Lab/bench prototype

IP Status

  • 2 foreign patents application filed
  • 2 U.S. patents application filed