The nose is specialized to warn and protect the body against dangers, but it is also a delicate sensory organ that provides some of the greatest pleasures in life.
The aerodynamic nasal passages function as a filter and air-conditioner to protect the lower airways. This functionality is achieved by the complex, narrow and convoluted geometry of the nose. Large particles are efficiently filtered out and infective agents are detected by the abundant nasal immune system.
The inside of the nose is lined with a mucus membrane rich in blood vessels, which provides a first line of defense against harmful particles. Acting as a gateway between the anterior third of the nose, roughly the visible part, and the two-thirds deep inside the head above the roof of the mouth, the nasal valve disrupts inhaled airflow to trap airborne particles in the nasal secretions. Particles are deposited on the lining of the narrow nasal valve, where they are carried down and backwards to eventually be swallowed.
Beyond the nasal valve, the nasal cavity is divided into a labyrinth of slit-like passages by the nasal turbinates and is lined by columnar epithelium just one cell thick. This epithelium creates a layer of mucous that moistens and protects the lining of the nose, traps and clears unwanted substances, and has antibodies, enzymes and other important content. The nasal lining behind the nasal valve also has “cilia,” or small hair-like structures that sweep the nasal mucus back and into the throat. Slowing of the inhaled airflow as it passes through the nasal labyrinth allows time and provides enough surface area for the inhaled air to be warmed and moistened, within fractions of a second, before reaching the lungs.
OptiNose is leveraging the anatomy of the nasal cavity, and its close proximity to the blood, to deliver drugs directly to the circulatory system and transform how certain medical conditions may be treated.