Press release | 17.6.2021
Munich, 17 June 2021 - The European Patent Office (EPO) today honoured Norwegian physician and scientist Per Gisle Djupesland with the European Inventor Award 2021 in the "Industry" category at a digital ceremony. His dedication to improving the effectiveness and safety of administering medication via the nose led to the invention of a device that uses the patient's own breathing as part of the delivery process.
"With his many years of experience as a medical doctor, improving patient care has been at the heart of Djupesland's motivation as an inventor," said EPO President António Campinos. "His patented technology is testament to this, and has enabled him to build a successful company which is continually looking to bring therapeutic benefits to patients."
The 2021 European Inventor Award ceremony was held digitally and, for the first time, was open to the public who tuned in to the event from around the world. The Award, one of Europe's most prestigious innovation prizes, is presented annually by the EPO to outstanding inventors from Europe and beyond who have made an exceptional contribution to society, technological progress and economic growth. The finalists and winners in five categories (Industry, Research, SMEs, Non-EPO countries and Lifetime achievement) were selected by an independent international jury.
While working as an ear, nose and throat specialist at University Hospital Oslo, Djupesland noted that nasal spray pumps were often not as effective as they should be. Traditional spray pumps could not always reach the target areas for such diseases in the nose and sinuses. He began thinking about how drug delivery could be improved, which led him to the idea of using the patient's own exhaled breath to deliver medicine. This was inspired, in part, by his PhD in nasal aerodynamics, during which he studied the development of the nasal airway in infants and the potential role of nasal obstruction in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
The nasal drug delivery system that he eventually developed is simple to use. The patient inserts the device's nosepiece into one nostril, takes a deep breath, closes their lips around the mouthpiece and exhales (similarly to inﬂating a balloon). Djupesland secured his first European patent in 2004; since then, he has filed other patent applications for additional inventions covering the delivery of medication in either particle or liquid form, and for single- and multi-dose variants.
He co-founded the company Optinose AS in Norway with his wife, Helena, in 2000 to commercialise his invention and commends his wife, who holds a law degree and MBA and was CEO of Optinose for the first decade, for providing essential support and advice from the very beginning.
Today, the company is a subsidiary of OptiNose, Inc. which is a NASDAQ-listed company that employs more than 200 staff. Djupesland's invention also opens up possibilities for targeting brain conditions, and the company has an active licence programme that enables the development of treatments with its system by other organisations. New avenues are continually being explored. In June 2020, Optinose announced it was developing a nasal antiseptic to treat both the symptoms and transmission of COVID-19. If clinical trials confirm its potential, the solution could be expanded for use against a wide range of respiratory viruses.
Djupesland says: "Now, we are at the starting point again, with a new product based on the initial patents: a nasal antiseptic, to be delivered with our exhalation delivery system, to kill the COVID-19 virus and reduce its transmission."
Per Gisle Djupesland earned his doctorate in medicine from the University of Oslo, Norway, in 1982. He obtained a PhD in nasal aerodynamics from the same institution in 1999. He is an otolaryngologist (ENT) with a specialisation in rhinology, and has more than 25 years of clinical experience. He served as an ear, nose and throat specialist and research fellow at University Hospital Oslo from 1996-2000. Djupesland also worked as a Clinical Research Fellow at the Hospital for Sick Children and Toronto General in Toronto, Canada, primarily studying the role of nitric oxide in the upper airways. Djupesland has authored more than 60 peer reviewed articles in international medical journals and has lectured at numerous international scientific conferences. He is Chief Scientific Officer of OptiNose AS, and has primary responsibility for device discovery and early development efforts.
Djupesland holds 26 European granted patents, including EP2340865 granted in 2016 for nasal delivery devices for bi-directional delivery.
The European Inventor Award is one of Europe's most prestigious innovation prizes. Launched by the EPO in 2006, it honours individual inventors and teams of inventors whose pioneering inventions provide answers to some of the biggest challenges of our times. The finalists and winners are selected by an independent jury consisting of international authorities from the fields of business, politics, science, academia and research who examine the proposals for their contribution towards technical progress, social development, economic prosperity and job creation in Europe. The Award is conferred in five categories (Industry, Research, SMEs, Non-EPO countries and Lifetime achievement). In addition, the public selects the winner of the Popular Prize from among the 15 finalists through online voting.
With 6 400 staff, the European Patent Office (EPO) is one of the largest public service institutions in Europe. Headquartered in Munich with offices in Berlin, Brussels, The Hague and Vienna, the EPO was founded with the aim of strengthening co-operation on patents in Europe. Through the EPO's centralised patent granting procedure, inventors are able to obtain high-quality patent protection in up to 44 countries, covering a market of some 700 million people. The EPO is also the world's leading authority in patent information and patent searching.
Luis Berenguer Giménez
Principal Director Communication, Spokesperson
Tel.: +49 89 2399 1203