The major part of the approximately 150 cm 2 surface in the human nasal cavity is covered by respiratory epithelium, across which systemic drug absorption can be achieved. The olfactory epithelium is situated in the upper posterior part and covers approximately 10 cm 2 of the human nasal cavity. The nerve cells of the olfactory epithelium project into the olfactory bulb of the brain, which provides a direct connection between the brain and the external environment. The transfer of drugs to the brain from the blood circulation is normally hindered by the blood–brain barrier (BBB), which is virtually impermeable to passive diffusion of all but small, lipophilic substances. However, if drug substances can be transferred along the olfactory nerve cells, they can bypass the BBB and enter the brain directly.,  
Corticosteroids have been used as drug treatment for some time. Lewis Sarett of Merck & Co. was the first to synthesize cortisone, using a complicated 36-step process that started with deoxycholic acid, which was extracted from ox bile .  The low efficiency of converting deoxycholic acid into cortisone led to a cost of US $200 per gram. Russell Marker , at Syntex , discovered a much cheaper and more convenient starting material, diosgenin from wild Mexican yams . His conversion of diosgenin into progesterone by a four-step process now known as Marker degradation was an important step in mass production of all steroidal hormones, including cortisone and chemicals used in hormonal contraception .  In 1952, . Peterson and . Murray of Upjohn developed a process that used Rhizopus mold to oxidize progesterone into a compound that was readily converted to cortisone.  The ability to cheaply synthesize large quantities of cortisone from the diosgenin in yams resulted in a rapid drop in price to US $6 per gram, falling to $ per gram by 1980. Percy Julian's research also aided progress in the field.  The exact nature of cortisone's anti-inflammatory action remained a mystery for years after, however, until the leukocyte adhesion cascade and the role of phospholipase A2 in the production of prostaglandins and leukotrienes was fully understood in the early 1980s.