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UQ adds to the bank with breakthrough drug therapy deal


A deal has been stitched together by the University of Queensland and its commercialisation arm Uniquest  to develop a unique drug delivery method to mental health patients.

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The deal, with InnarisBio, a division of German bio-pharmaceutical company Atai Life Sciences, is for nasal spray technology that enables the delivery of psychedelic and non-psychedelic drugs to treat mental health disorders.

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

Atai plans to explore the use of the sol-gel technology for a variety of compounds in its development pipeline.

UniQuest negotiated the licence agreement which includes a patent application and its chief executive Dean Moss said the 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,” Moss said.

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

Uniquest does not reveal its finances other than to say that it has contributed $700 million to the university in the past decade through commercialising bio techs

Atai chief executive and co-founder Florian Brand said UQ’s team had 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 had such a large unmet need.

“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,” he said.

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,” she said.

InnarisBio will collaborate with UniQuest, UQ’s 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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