Impel NeuroPharma bags $4M to develop its device to deliver drugs across blood-brain barrier

Impel NeuroPharma's Precision Olfactory Device--Courtesy of Impel

Seattle's Impel NeuroPharma raised $4 million in equity, taking its total fundraising haul to nearly $9 million, as it seeks to outlicense its device for overcoming the blood-brain barrier via intranasal drug delivery.

The blood-brain barrier has proven to be among the body's most impenetrable, but Impel says its Precision Olfactory Delivery device exploits a weakness, arguing that the nose-to-brain pathway lacks a significant membrane barrier. Apparently, the device can deliver more than 50% of a drug in the nose's olfactory region, compared to less than 5% from standard droppers, sprays or pumps, resulting in uptake to the central nervous system.

Impel says the POD device can deliver liquids or powder formulations. The company is a pure device play that seeks to outlicense its technology to academic, pharma or biotech partners, though none are listed on the Impel website.

Last year, the company described a formulation of the opioid fentanyl called aerosol-stable Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD) tripeptide-coated liposome that can be used effectively with the device.

Chief scientific officer John Hoekman is one of three people listed in the SEC filing, which also includes co-founder and CEO Michael Hite and board member H. Stewart Parker, the former CEO of the Infectious Disease Research Institute.

The funding consists of equity, options/warrants and a securities to be acquired upon exercise of an option/warrant. The latest round takes the company's equity funding to $8.7 million since 2010. There is $8 million remaining to be sold in the current round.

Last year, researchers at Canada's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health used the POD device to demonstrate that an interfering peptide designed to disrupt an interaction between dopamine receptors in the brain acted as an antidepressant when delivered across the nasal passage, at least in rats. Previously, the scientists showed that the drug worked the same way when injected directly into the brain, but this route of delivery was too invasive for clinical viability.

- here's the SEC filing