RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK- Oriel Therapeutics is breathing much easier.

The three-year-old firm is developing dry powder inhalation technology for drug products that will improve treatment for asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cystic fibrosis.

The company tagline is “Creating the Next generation Drug Product for Pulmonary Drug Delivery”.

They company CEO, Paul Atkins, P.h.d said in a Q&A, “Oriel is achieving these same targets with much simpler, and therefore less expensive, approaches.”

The Q&A with Atkins follows:

The momentum has picked up over the past year in many segments of venture capital. Are you finding more interest among potential investors? Please explain why or why not.
We are and not just from local investors. I think many of the potential investors we talk to see RTP as a fertile area to grow early stage life science companies.

Even in a better investment climate, VCs are more demanding than ever in terms of due diligence. Why should investors be interested in your firm?
Oriel Therapeutics is changing the way in which respiratory diseases will be treated. Based on proven technology and guided by an experienced management team with a record of successful product development, Oriel is taking the technology and turning this into differentiated products that will be easier for patients to use.

What’s your “elevator pitch” in a paragraph or a few sentences?
Based in Research Triangle Park, Oriel Therapeutics is an emerging inhaled drug delivery company based on innovative technology for aerosolizing powders using the application of powder-specific electrical frequencies. Utilizing technology developed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Oriel is developing dry powder inhaler (DPI) products with their own energy source for drug delivery to the lungs to better treat respiratory diseases.

What is the “pain point” (or points) you address for your customers?
Traditional inhalers use either a propellant or the patients inspired effort to get drug into their lungs. Oriel’s technology does the work for the patient and is independent of patient effort. This also means that the technology can deliver a broader range of drug formulations from a single technology platform.

What makes your company unique? Do you have a proprietary and/or a patented technology? Please explain why it is unique and what the status is of any patent filings.
Oriel’s inhaler is an active dry powder inhaler (DPI) with its own energy source that provides patients with uniform medication dosage every time. The energy is provided by an electronic signal. When a patient activates the inhaler, the active mechanism aerosolizes the powder through electrically controlled vibration that is tailored to the particular drug loaded in the device.

Other inhalers depend on the patients’ own inhalation efforts to determine how much of the drug is delivered to the lungs. Because of this, children and older patients may not get the full dosage they require because their inhalation may not be strong enough to carry the drug to the lungs.

There are currently a number of patents pending for Oriel’s proprietary dry powder inhalation technology.

What makes your product(s) and/or services unique vs. your competition? (Who is your competition, and what do they offer?) If you have no competition, why not?
A number of companies have attempted to develop new inhalation delivery technologies over the past decade, but to date none have come to market. These companies have technology in their devices that address a number of the key features that are important in inhaled delivery, mainly active administration of drug, consistent dose delivery and a high proportion of dose getting to the lung. These are all important however, to date these companies have been technically successful but this has come at a high price per dose delivered to the patient.

Oriel is achieving these same targets with much simpler, and therefore less expensive, approaches. Additionally, the competitors’ devices are all unit-dose systems whereas Oriel’s technology concept is a pre-metered system that lends itself to both unit dose and multi-dose formats.

Does your company already generate revenue? If so, how much? Are you cash flow positive?
Yes, we had less than $1.0M in 2004 however we are not yet cash flow positive.

What is your target market? What is the size of that market in terms of dollars? What share of that market do you believe you can win?
The delivery of drugs to the lung to treat diseases like asthma and COPD. This is a $10Bn market and continues to grow. In addition, there continues to be interest in using the lung as a route to deliver drugs to the systemic circulation. Oriel currently has an active project in this area also.

What will you do with the invested funds? What is the timeline for product delivery? If you have existing products and services, how will additional funding help you expand your company, if that is the intention, or will you develop new products?
Our plan is to invest the funds to achieve one or more commercially ready products by the end of 2006.

What do you want from an investor other than money?
Experience in growing an early stage life science company.

Why will investors be impressed with your management team? Include a brief background about key executives.
Oriel has assembled an experienced management team and group of key advisors that together bring an unparalleled level of scientific, pharmaceutical and business expertise.
The team has recognized leaders in inhaled drug delivery, inhalation technology, dry powder science and financial management and has a proven track record of taking products to market.

What is the exit strategy for the investor from your company? Are there potential strategic alliances with larger companies? Do you wish to take the company public? Or do you wish to grow the company and either sell it or acquire other companies?
The technology and products that Oriel is developing will be of interest to a number of companies either in the respiratory area or trying to get a toehold in this market. We anticipate forming several strategic alliances, which could naturally lead to an acquisition.