Startup sniffs out mental health treatments using UQ drug delivery platform

Dr Harendra Parekh with a demonstration model of the sol-gel technology

Dr Harendra Parekh with a demonstration model of the sol-gel technology

A nasal spray technology that enables the delivery of psychedelic and non-psychedelic drugs to treat mental health disorders will enter development for clinical use following the signing of a licence agreement with startup company InnarisBio, an atai Life Sciences company.

University of Queensland researcher Dr Harendra Parekh and his team developed the solution-to-gel intranasal drug delivery technology - a liquid solution containing the therapeutic compound that converts to a gel upon contact with the inside membrane of the nose.

Head of UQ School of Pharmacy Professor Sarah Roberts-Thomson said it was an exciting development for the sol-gel technology.

"We are delighted to partner with InnarisBio - supported by global biopharmaceutical company atai Life Sciences - to address an area of such great unmet need," Professor Roberts-Thomson said.

Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of atai Life Sciences, Florian Brand, said the company planned to explore the use of the sol-gel technology for a variety of compounds in its development pipeline.

"The team led by Dr Parekh at UQ has worked hard to develop a technology that may mitigate many of the drawbacks typically associated with traditional drug delivery to the central nervous system, which has such a large unmet need," Mr Brand said.

"This novel technology has the potential to be superior to other intranasal drug delivery methods available by improving absolute uptake and duration of uptake through muco-adhesion in the nose, reducing dose administered and dosing frequency."

UQ’s commercialisation company UniQuest negotiated the licence agreement which includes a patent application.

UniQuest CEO Dr Dean Moss said he was excited the licensed UQ technology would potentially play a role in solving one of the world’s most complex health problems.

"It could help tackle the burden of mental illness and is another example of the power of UQ research to create meaningful change," Dr Moss said.

Under the terms of the deal UniQuest will receive equity in InnarisBio, along with the potential to receive future development and commercial milestone payments and a royalty on sales.

InnarisBio will collaborate with UniQuest, UQ’s Dr Parekh and his research team to formulate and develop bespoke sol-gel formulations for several psychedelic and non-psychedelic compounds nominated by InnarisBio.

This contains forward-looking statements subject to the risks identified in atai Life Science’s public filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.


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