Member Spotlight: Q&A with Portal Instruments

Mar 02, 2020

Every month, MassBio spotlights a member company and the great work they’re doing to advance the life sciences industry and support the patients we serve. In March, we spoke with Patrick Anquetil, CEO, Portal Instruments. Patrick founded Portal Instruments in 2014 with MIT Professor, Ian Hunter. He brings more than 18 years of experience leading high-tech bioengineering companies from the lab to the marketplace and building world-class teams.

Tell us about your organization, its mission, and current initiatives

Portal Instruments is developing a next-generation, connected needle-free injector to provide patients — especially those who have to take regular injections — with a modern, easy-to-use, needle-free option.  We aim to positively transform the experience for patients on life-changing therapies.

Based upon technology from MIT, Portal’s needle-free injector is uniquely different from previous generations of needle-free injectors; it can deliver over 1mL injections of high viscosity drugs in less than 0.5 seconds and automatically collects adherence data.

We believe that the adherence data will be useful to the greater ecosystem of healthcare and disease management programs. Our vision is to collaborate with these groups to find ways to help individual patients stay on track while also discovering trends that can improve population health.

Our business model is to partner with pharma companies and submit to the FDA as a combination product. Based upon our market research and clinical studies, we believe Portal’s needle-free option can be a strong differentiator for any therapeutic and will improve the patient experience.

How does your organization’s activities help patients now and into the future?

Lightening the burden of having to take a regular injection and improving the patient experience is at the core of what we do. Approximately 10% of the population is needle-phobic (and many more have needle anxiety), which often leads to the refusal or delay of treatments that require injections. By providing an alternative option for these patients and improving their access to beneficial therapies, we look to ultimately improve outcomes.

In the future, we envision a world without any needles: for pediatricians to have access to needle-free vaccines; for global health workers to be able to safely administer mass immunizations or therapies; for patients of any indication to have access to receiving their treatment needle-free.

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the life sciences industry today?

One of the biggest challenges in the life sciences industry (especially compared to the consumer tech industry) is the speed of innovation and development. Rightfully so, medical devices and pharmaceutical therapies need to be rigorously tested for safety and held to high-quality standards, but the downside is the time it takes to get to market. At Portal, we continually ask ourselves: how can we test faster, learn faster, obtain data faster and adjust faster? As such, we have adopted an agile methodology and approach to our development. We break down projects into short sprints; build prototypes in our own rapid fabrication shop, test and analyze in our labs; adjust, and then scale to the next level. By building out prototyping capabilities and keeping much testing in-house, we not only can move faster but we have become experts in the testing and characteristics of drug delivery. 

What’s next for your organization / what are you focused on in the coming year?

Our near-term focus centers on meeting the milestone goals we have established with our partners (Takeda Pharmaceutical and Leo Pharma) and building out our organization into a multi-product, global commercial one.

Meanwhile, we continue to invest in research for other applications of needle-free technology, connectivity, and adherence tools.

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