Breaking Through

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Scientists have long sought ways to get drugs directly into that final frontier—the human brain. Now, Impel NeuroPharma, a biomedical startup near Swedish Hospital on Capitol Hill, believes its new delivery system will enable drugs to get past the blood-brain barrier (BBB) to previously unreachable regions of the brain.

Founders Michael Hite and John Hoekman met at the University of Washington. After teaming up, they entered and won the university’s 2008 business plan competition. Hite credits the UW with providing “an environment that young companies can be incubated in” and with giving Impel the necessary resources as it expanded.

The drug-delivery system deposits an aerosol spray of a central nervous system drug and in the upper nasal cavity, effectively bypassing the BBB and allowing for easy absorption into the brain. Hite envisions a disposable device that patients can use at home by themselves. Unlike standard nasal pumps that have a wide, high-pressure spray, Impel's device delivers a narrow, low-pressure spray at a focused angle.

Applying the drug through the upper nose eliminates the need to encapsulate or alter the chemical structure of the compound to get past barriers that tend to reduce a drug’s efficacy. By enabling direct contact with the brain, Impel aims to decrease drug exposure throughout the body and drastically lessen side effects.

Impel’s technology could treat diseases like AIDS and pesticide overdoses more effectively. Presently, even the best drugs cannot eliminate elements of AIDS in the brain reservoir, and overdose victims must go to emergency rooms for treatment. Impel’s device would enable chemicals to actually reach the affected portions of the brain, and also allow customers to treat pesticide overdoses at home.

Hite says Impel will begin the first human study of its technology later this year. The trial aims to treat pain and should provide the company with human data in early 2012. If successful, Impel could revolutionize how effectively drugs treat medical conditions.

The 2016 Washington Manufacturing Awards: Legacy Award

The 2016 Washington Manufacturing Awards: Legacy Award

Winner: Belshaw Adamatic Bakery Group
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Legacy Award
Belshaw Adamatic Bakery Group
Auburn › belshaw-adamatic.com
When it’s time to make doughnuts — or loaves of bread, or sheets of rolls — it could well be a Belshaw Adamatic piece of equipment that’s turning out the baked goods. From a 120,000-square-foot plant in Auburn, Belshaw Adamatic produces the ovens, fryers, conveyors and specialty equipment like jelly injectors used by wholesale and retail bakeries.
 
The firm’s two legacy companies — Belshaw started in 1923, Adamatic in 1962 — combined forces in 2007. Italy’s Ali Group North America is the parent.
 
It it takes work to maintain a legacy. A months-long strike in 2013 damaged morale and forced a leadership change. Frank Chandler was named president and CEO of Belshaw Adamatic in September 2013. The company has since strived to mend workplace relationships while also introducing a stream of new products, such as a convection oven, the BX Eco-touch, with energy saving features and steam injection that can be programmed for precise times in baking. The company energetically describes it as “an oven that saves time, reduces errors, makes an awesome product, and is fun to use and depend on every day!”
 
So far, more than 3,000 have been installed in quick-service restaurants, bakeries, cafés and supermarkets in the United States. They are the legacy of Thomas and Walter Belshaw, former builders of marine engines, who began producing patented manual and automated doughnut-making machines in Seattle 90 years ago. They sold thousands worldwide and, today, Belshaw Adamatic is the nation’s largest maker and distributor of doughnut-making equipment.