University of Queensland’s drug delivery platform to treat mental health

mental health

Dr Harendra Parekh with a demonstration model of the sol-gel technology. Image: UQ

University of Queensland (UQ) have developed a solution-to-gel intranasal drug delivery technology to treat mental health disorders, which will enter development for clinical use through atai Life Sciences company, InnarisBio. 

The nasal spray technology was developed by University of Queensland researcher Dr Harendra Parekh and his team. The technology is 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,” Roberts-Thomson said. 

atai Life Sciences plans to explore the use of the sol-gel technology for a variety of compounds in its development pipeline, according to co-founder and CEO Florian Brand. 

“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,” 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.” 

The University of Queensland’s commercialisation company, UniQuest, negotiated the licence agreement which includes a patent application. 

The licensed UQ technology could potentially play a role in solving one of the world’s most complex health problems, UniQuest CEO Dr Dean Moss said. 

“It could help tackle the burden of mental illness and is another example of the power of UQ research to create meaningful change,” 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, University of Queensland’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. 

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