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Drug delivery device invented in UW Ho laboratory receives $36M

Venture funding to support clinical development of the company’s lead compoundsho-hoekman

Impel NeuroPharma, Inc., a Seattle-based clinical stage biotechnology company announced a $36 million Series C round to develop a pipeline of drug-device combination products built upon its Precision Olfactory Delivery™ (POD™) nasal delivery platform.

The POD™ drug delivery device is intended to achieve biodistribution, bioavailability, and decreased dose-to-dose variability in patients by delivering the dose deep into the nasal cavity, thereby delivering a more consistent, higher concentration of the drug to the brain. The device could significantly improve treatments for neurological disorders such as migraine, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

With the research team led by UW Pharmaceutics Professor Rodney Ho, Rodney and John Hoekman invented the brain drug delivery concept while John was a graduate student. Now that John has graduated, he leads Impel, which has licensed the concept. “Through John’s tireless efforts, he has made significant progress in bringing this critical technology closer to the market,” said Rodney.

“The shortcoming of a lot of drugs isn’t the drug itself,” said Ho. “It’s getting the correct dose to exactly the right place so it’s most effective. Once a drug goes into the body, it’s not unusual for 10 percent or less to actually end up where it needs to go. But if too much is delivered, it can be toxic. So the shortest road to drug safety and effectiveness is to solve that puzzle—in this case, it is to deliver the drug directly to the brain using the POD™ device.”

“The nasal cavity is a vastly underutilized entry point for therapeutics into the circulation,” said John. “Our POD™ nasal delivery may allow for an improvement in biodistribution and consistency compared to current delivery methods. Impel NeuroPharma is striving to use the POD™ system to develop improved drug-device combination products in underserved patient populations.”

“We are especially pleased that our new investors recognized the value in the POD™ technology. Their support allows us to move our lead products closer to FDA approval,” John added.

“The biodistribution data that Impel NeuroPharma has generated with the POD delivery platform demonstrates its potential to improve our approach to treating multiple diseases. We’re excited to use the platform to bring new treatments to patients,” said Aaron Royston of venBIO, one of the investment firms.

John’s affiliation with the UW School of Pharmacy continues as an alumnus. “John is the definition of a good citizen to all of us here at UWSOP,” reflected Rodney. “He continues to teach and help promote the school’s research mission. We appreciate his ongoing collaboration and are inspired by his innovative thinking and commitment to make a difference in the lives of millions of people.”

About UW School of Pharmacy: UWSOP is comprised of three departments: Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmaceutics, and Pharmacy, offering Ph.D., M.S., and PharmD degrees, post docs and certificate programs. The UW School of Pharmacy is a global leader in pharmacy education, research and service, committed to providing a transformative learning experience in a collaborative and diverse environment focused on improving the health and well-being of the communities we serve. Our mission is three-fold: inspiring education: developing exceptional, innovative and diverse pharmacy leaders and scientists; discovering solutions: advancing the science, development, implementation, and outcomes of safe and appropriate treatments; and serving people and communities: promoting the health and well-being of the public, locally and globally.

About POD technology

Impel NeuroPharma’s POD™ nasal drug delivery platform is designed to deliver drugs to the upper nasal cavity for improved biodistribution. By delivering therapeutics to the upper nasal cavity, the POD nasal delivery platform takes advantage of the vascular rich olfactory region for improved bioavailability and has the potential to target the brain via the olfactory and trigeminal nerves. Delivery of therapeutically meaningful levels of drugs may allow for development of more effective drugs and expand the range of treatment options available to patients.

About Impel NeuroPharma

Impel NeuroPharma, Inc. is a Seattle-based company developing intranasal drug treatments for central nervous system (CNS) disorders. Impel NeuroPharma has developed a novel drug delivery platform, the POD™ technology, that administers drug to the deep nasal cavity to improve the biodistribution of many drugs. Impel NeuroPharma’s proprietary (POD) device technology enables entirely new categories of drugs, including biologics, to be administered using a cost-effective, disposable, non- invasive intranasal drug delivery device. To learn more about Impel NeuroPharma please visit our website:

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