“If we would’ve been remunerated every time our data was used, it would’ve been nice”

3 July 2020

Hans Lennernäs

Hans Lennernäs

Hello there… Hans Lennernäs, Professor in biopharmaceutics at the Department of Pharmacy, who has been awarded the APS Award by the Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences (APS) in the United Kingdom.

First of all, congratulations on the award!

“Thank you! It's primarily a product of innovative and productive collaboration within Uppsala University and of international collaborations. The great benefit of the award is when seeking research funding. The award is like an independent assessment, showing that our research results are of such great value as to be of use to other research groups around the world.”

What is the APS in the UK?

“APS is much like the Swedish Pharmaceutical Society. They try to bring together many of those who work on researching and developing pharmaceuticals, such as academies, institutes, authorities and industries. It's a British organisation with a British focus, but there are representatives from all over the world. It’s an important organisation with many members from regulatory agencies and the industry. The APS Award is sponsored by AstraZeneca.”

What does it mean for you to receive the award?

“The award is an acknowledgment and in conjunction with it I will give a lecture at the conference PharmSci 2021. The conference gathers many different stakeholders, which is an important part of the collaboration needed for drug research.”

APS is impressed with your research and your work. What do you think they are impressed with?

“As I said, it's not just my work. We’ve obtained the research results in collaboration with various colleagues at BMC and the University Hospital here in Uppsala. It all started when we adapted a new intestinal perfusion technique at the University Hospital, and did a large number of clinical experimental studies on different transport mechanisms of drugs across the intestinal membrane.

The studies gave us data, which in turn led to a collaboration with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Swedish Medical Products Agency (Läkemedelsverket) and the University of Michigan (USA). After ten years of research, the collaboration resulted in the Biopharmaceutics Classification System, which is a framework for classifying certain properties of drugs and acts as a decision basis for regulatory approvals of the drugs.

The framework is used by authorities and companies all over the world, WHO uses it to distribute medicines to broader patient groups globally and authorities use it to be able to make demands on pharmaceutical companies.”

You have more than one string to your bow, many patents and several companies, but what would you say you are most proud of?

“It’s always difficult to highlight something specific. It’s a slow development over time, where one thing builds on another. It's a privilege to be able to do this for decades. I’ve gone from intestinal permeability and the Biopharmaceutics Classification System to developing and researching new treatments for intestinal diseases and various forms of cancer. Our intestinal data has been included in drug programs used by pharmaceutical companies and authorities. If we would’ve been remunerated every time our data was used it would’ve been nice, but it’s public data.”

You have been Professor at Uppsala University for twenty years. What has the University meant to you?

“Extremely much! We are a wide-ranging university, with unique and powerful competences never far away. You can collaborate and make valuable contributions. And all this time, the collaboration with the Uppsala University Hospital has been extremely valuable and very inspiring.”

Is there anything you want to bring up yourself?

“I’ve worked with several innovations in various therapy areas, including cortisol. The world's most well-known cortisol patient was John F Kennedy, who, among other things, suffered from Addison's disease, which is insufficiency of the hormones cortisol and aldosterone. Our treatment method, which we developed in collaboration with endocrinologists at the University of Gothenburg, mimics the normal diurnal variation and we registered it about ten years ago. We came up with a new pharmaceutical preparation for a strong medical need.

That's how we work. We don't invent new drug molecules but identify medical needs and see if we can modify existing treatment methods with new drug combinations and pharmaceutical formulations. Compare with today's research on Covid-19. Many research groups look at existing medications and try to see if they can be modified to treat the disease.

We’ve been doing just this, with a strong focus on bowel diseases and various forms of cancer, for 20 years. We want to improve existing treatment methods to be more efficient and give patients a better life.”