OptiNose drug delivery device

The OptiNose drug delivery device bypasses the blood brain barrier so that drugs can be delivered directly to the brain


A Norwegian company has developed OptiNose, a medical device that enables drugs to be administered deep within the nasal cavity. Traditional nasal delivery methods are limited because they can only deliver a small fraction of drugs to key nerve fibers high in the nasal cavity that link to the brain. The OptiNose drug delivery device improves upon existing methods by manipulating the user’s breath power to propel drugs past the nasal valve for increased deposition onto nerves and reduces the loss of drugs from swallowing.

OptiNose is effective with both powder and liquid formulations and is currently in clinical trials with drug candidates targeting migraine and chronic sinusitis. It also appears to be a promising technology to treat mental illnesses like autism, where oxytocin, a neuropeptide implicated in social-cognitive behaviour and used for therapy, is too large of a molecule to get across the blood-brain barrier.

In a recent clinical study by Quintana and colleagues, OptiNose was used to examine the effect of low-dose oxytocin in healthy subjects’ perception of social images and whether the device yielded improved pharmacological effects compared to high-dose intravenous administration of oxytocin. They discovered that there were specific cognitive responses using OptiNose over intravenous administration, suggesting that there was a direct drug-to-brain effect. This result supports the continued study of this novel device in the treatment of mental illness and other indications which would benefit from more direct drug delivery to nervous tissue.



Quintana, DS, Westlye LT, Rustan ØG, Tesli N, Poppy CL, Smevik H, Tesli M, Røine M, Mahmoud RA, Smerud KT, Djupesland PG, Andreassen OA. “Low-dose oxytocin delivered intranasally with Breath Powered device affects social-cognitive behavior: a randomized four-way crossover trial with nasal cavity dimension assessment.” Translational Psychiatry. Volume 5 e602. July 14 2015.

OptiNose Website: www.optinose.com

University of Oslo Media Release: http://www.med.uio.no/klinmed/english/research/news-and-events/news/2015/nasal-spray-mental-illness.html

Picture source: OptiNose website





Written by Fiona Wong, PhD

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