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Impel Raises $67.5M to Advance Intranasal Drugs for CNS Disorders

Xconomy Seattle — 

Impel NeuroPharma, which is developing technology to deliver certain therapeutics more effectively to the brain, says it has raised $67.5 million in new funding to support clinical trials of its drug candidates.

Seattle-based Impel has three drug candidates currently undergoing clinical studies, all designed to treat a variety of central nervous system (CNS) diseases, including acute migraines and Parkinson’s disease.

The candidates in Impel’s pipeline are designed to be administered using a nose-to-brain device the company developed to get around the blood-brain barrier that keeps many medicines taken by mouth from being delivered to the brain effectively. Pills taken orally to treat CNS disorders such as Parkinson’s disease do not fully absorb into a patient’s bloodstream right away, and can produce side effects, like constipation.

Impel’s delivery device could increase how rapidly drugs are delivered to the brain, the company says.

John Hoekman, co-founder and chief scientific officer of Impel, helped launch the company in 2008. At the time, he was a 28-year-old doctoral student at the University of Washington. A key milestone for the company came in 2013, when it released largely positive results of a study showing Impel’s device could deliver a small peptide molecule to the brain in a much larger concentration than a conventional nasal spray.

Since then, Impel has moved three drug candidates into the clinic.

One of Impel’s drug candidates, which it calls INP104 and is being developed to treat patients who experience acute migraines, is currently in a phase 3 clinical trial. CEO Jon Congleton says he anticipates Impel will release initial data from the study in late 2019.

Impel also has an experimental therapy in a phase 2 study. The drug candidate, INP103, is for treating times when levodopa, a drug for Parkinson’s disease patients, has yet to take effect or has worn off.

The company’s third drug candidate in clinical trials, INP105, is being developed to treat agitation in bipolar and schizophrenia disorders. It’s currently in early-stage clinical testing.

Norwest Venture Partners and KKR led the latest investment in Impel, the company says. Other participants in the Series D funding round included three existing investors, all based in the Bay Area: 5AM Ventures, venBio Partners, and Vivo Capital.

The company, which has 45 employees, has raised more than $127 million since launching, says Congleton.

Congleton joined Impel in October 2017. He previously held the top job at Boulder, CO-based Nivalis Therapeutics, which is now part of Alpine Immune Sciences (NASDAQ: ALPN). Before that, Congleton spent more than a decade at Israel’s Teva Pharmaceuticals (NYSE: TEVA). At Teva, Congleton oversaw sales of rasagiline (Azilect), a drug for treating symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.