Per Gisle Djupesland
Better nasal drug delivery
Winner of the European Inventor Award 2021
Targeted drug delivery has been one of the main challenges in treating chronic inﬂammatory nasal and sinus diseases. Traditional spray pumps cannot always reach targets that often lie deep in the nose and sinuses. Medicine is often deposited in the wrong areas, swallowed or passed straight through the nasal passages into the lungs, presenting a potential health risk.
While working as an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist at University Hospital Oslo, Djupesland became convinced that there had to be a better way to deliver drugs. His experience in the field combined with his PhD in nasal aerodynamics led him to explore whether a patient's own exhaled breath could improve drug delivery. He noted that when exhaling against resistance, the soft palate closes. Djupesland developed an exhalation delivery system (EDS) that uses this natural mechanism by simultaneously redirecting the exhaled breath through the nasal passages. The invention includes a movable mouthpiece and a shaped sealing nosepiece. Air enters one nostril and exits the other, taking away the risk of lung inhalation and carrying the drug deeply through the nasal passages.
Better targeted treatments
In 2000, Djupesland and his wife Helena co-founded Optinose AS to commercialise the invention. Today, Optinose is NASDAQ-listed and employs over 200 people. The device treats patients suffering from migraines and cluster headaches and is also being tested in clinical trials for chronic sinusitis. The company is exploring whether direct drug delivery to the brain could help with neurological condition. Optinose recently announced that it would start to develop a nasal antiseptic to treat both the symptoms and transmission of COVID-19.
Djupesland is currently Chief Scientific Officer of Optinose and works part-time as an ENT consultant. In this way, he continues to benefit from the rich combination of research and practical experience which was instrumental in the successful development of his innovative device.
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