Meet new ISAB Board member Jan Hellqvist: “there is a major opportunity for ISAB as a service provider for SME respiratory drug developers”

  • 27 september, 2022
  • 12:54

With over 30 years in the life science and pharma industries and deep roots in respiratory, ISAB’s new Board member Jan Hellqvist has extensive experience growing SMEs to produce strong profit and growth. What are the key opportunities he sees for ISAB?

“A big challenge for many small- to mid-size enterprises (SMEs) developing respiratory products is finding a service provider who can really help them develop the skills, organization and instruments they need to take a respiratory drug from discovery through to the preclinical stage” says new ISAB Board member Jan Hellqvist.

There is an increasing number of SMEs developing groundbreaking respiratory drugs Hellqvist says: “Many are crying out for experienced, high-quality research partners, currently there only a handful of service providers out there. This is a major opportunity. A business relationship with a service provider lasts for five to eight years – much longer than that between a purchaser and product provider. This could take ISAB to a level well beyond producing and selling instruments.”

About Jan Hellqvist

Hellqvist is ideally placed to understand the needs and opportunities for SMEs in life sciences and pharma. For almost 15 years, since leaving AstraZeneca, he has worked on restructuring and growing SMEs in the pharma service industry with global big pharma customers. He has also been the general manager for three different CROs, starting them from scratch or re-structuring them for growth and financial success.

Strong roots in respiratory

Crucially for ISAB Hellqvist has strong roots in the respiratory sector. After three years in the field as a respiratory product sales rep meeting hundreds of pulmonologists, GPs and pediatricians he became Product Manager and International Marketing Manager in Sweden for Astra’s blockbuster asthma treatment Pulmicort®, increasing market share of the country’s second largest asthma drug. He was also Global Brand Director for Astra Zeneca’s bronchodilator portfolio, including supporting the launch of blockbuster asthma treatment Symbicort®, where he worked with respiratory KOLs across Europe, the US and Asia, a network he maintains.

So what makes him think ISAB is such a strong candidate for service provider? “It’s ISAB’s combination of its project skills, its academic pedigree and its ability to develop and keep developing its instruments,” he says. “I don’t know of a service provider in the field who has that combination. ISAB will need to further develop their organization with different skillsets, get GLP (Good Lab Practices) certification to carry out inhouse services and so on. But this is a key target and a key opportunity certainly.”

Precision dosing and regional targeting a key differentiator

Hellqvist sees ISAB’s novel precision dosing method, where aerosol doses can be set before exposure, enabling a more precise control of particle size and dispersal, as a key benefit. “Particle size is enormously important,” he says. “If you have a problem with a surfactant for example then you will you want your particles to be as small as possible. If you are treating COPD you need them to be as large as possible to reach the lower regions of the lung. ISAB’s capabilities allow a level of precision and control in aerosol size that is exceptional.”

Respiratory vaccines and new inhaled treatments

Hellqvist points out that respiratory research is in rude health beyond asthma and COPD too. “Drug uptake in the lung is much quicker than through the gut,” he says. “And the exactness of the dosing is way better. So we’re seeing a clear trend towards developing more medications for respiratory administration. I think we will see a lot more vaccines in particular being developed for inhalation, especially in developing countries. It is a far more cost-effective route than buying a one-dose syringe. ISAB’s high particle precision technology offers unique benefits to companies developing these novel treatments.”

Read more about Inhalation Research Service’s (IRS, ISAB’s Contract Research organization here.

Read more about ISAB’s aerosol generator system PreciseInhale here.