Oral inhalation is the preferred route for delivery of small molecules to the lungs, because high tissue levels can be achieved shortly after application. Biologics are mainly administered by intravenous injection but inhalation might be beneficial for the treatment of lung diseases (e.g. asthma). This review discusses biological and pharmaceutical challenges for delivery of biologics and describes promising candidates. Insufficient stability of the proteins during aerosolization and the biological environment of the lung are the main obstacles for pulmonary delivery of biologics. Novel nebulizers will improve delivery by inducing less shear stress and administration as dry powder appears suitable for delivery of biologics. Other promising strategies include pegylation and development of antibody fragments, while carrier-encapsulated systems currently play no major role in pulmonary delivery of biologics for lung disease. While development of various biologics has been halted or has shown little effects, AIR DNase, alpha1-proteinase inhibitor, recombinant neuraminidase, and heparin are currently being evaluated in phase III trials. Several biologics are being tested for the treatment of coronavirus disease (COVID)-19, and it is expected that these trials will lead to improvements in pulmonary delivery of biologics.
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