School of Pharmacy News & Media Center
The University of Mississippi

Dr. Eman Ashour and Dr. Mike Repka pose for a photograph in a lab in Shoemaker Hall. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services


UM Pharmacy Researchers Secure STTR Grant

Grant will fund study of rhinitis treatment

As part of a Small Business Technology Transfer grant, University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy distinguished professor Michael Repka has received funding to study steroid-eluting dissolvable threads for treatment of rhinitis.

The National Science Foundation awarded the one-year, $255,045 grant to SimplyBreathe, LLC, with the School of Pharmacy’s Department of Pharmaceutics and Drug Delivery receiving a sub award of $149,917.

“The main objective and innovation of this research proposal is to develop and evaluate a steroid-eluting biodegradable thread for treatment of rhinitis employing hot-melt extrusion and 3D printing techniques,” said Repka, professor of pharmaceutics and drug delivery. “The hope is to provide patients relief for a minimum of six months and potentially up to a year.”

Symptoms of rhinitis include itching, sneezing, runny nose and nasal obstruction. Market research suggests that ENTs treat approximately six million rhinitis patients per year.

“Rhinitis has a tremendous effect on an individual’s quality of life,” Repka said. “There is a total of 77 million Americans addressable in the U.S. market that can be treated with the steroid-eluting thread and thus not have to endure surgery, chronic drug therapy or immunotherapy, as this would be placed in a quick, in-office procedure.

“We want to contribute to this health issue to improve the quality of life for Americans and ultimately across the globe.”

Repka is serving as principal investigator with assistant professor Eman Ashour as co-investigator. Sateesh Vemula, postdoctoral research assistant in the Department of Pharmaceutics and Drug Delivery, is directing graduate students and monitoring product development for the project.

The principal investigator for SimplyBreathe, LLC, is Bo Lewis, the company’s chief commercial officer. Lewis partnered with founder and ENT surgeon and inventor Grayson Gremillion on the project.

“There is an unmet need for treating rhinitis,” said Lewis, who has worked in product management in the area of otolaryngology for 25 years.

Lewis said steroid injections into the inferior turbinate in the nose were once commonplace for treating rhinitis. While the injections were effective, there were a small number of negative visual side effects and the practice was largely abandoned.

“This steroid-eluting implant would prevent those complications while still providing relief,” Lewis said. “We are excited to be working with one of the world’s leading institutions in the field of dissolvable polymer drug delivery at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy.”

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 2305502.

By Natalie Ehrhardt