Brisbane biotech expanding in the US

10 Dec 2012

A successful Brisbane biotechnology company formed by The University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) is expanding its collaboration with a publicly traded pharmaceutical company based on the east coast of the United States.

Protagonist Therapeutics, Inc. was established in 2001 and has so far raised more than $9 million towards its goal of developing new drugs.

It is headquartered at Menlo Park, California and has discovery operations co-located with the IMB at the Queensland Bioscience Precinct in Brisbane and at Menlo Park.

Driven by their mutual desire to end human suffering caused by a lack of effective drugs in areas with significant unmet medical needs, Protagonist began working with Massachusetts-based Ironwood Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: IRWD) in January 2011.

The partnership between Ironwood and Protagonist has now expanded, with Ironwood directly funding Protagonist scientists in exchange for access to their proprietary technology platform to design, discover and optimise drugs against therapeutically relevant targets.

Ironwood has the right to advance potential drugs discovered through preclinical and clinical development, and Protagonist will receive certain milestone payments and royalties from Ironwood for every drug that they take to market that uses their proprietary technology.

Dr. Todd Milne, Vice-President of Biology at Ironwood, is happy to be extending the collaboration.

“We are pleased to expand our relationship with Protagonist as we have been impressed with Protagonist’s scientific team, technology and the overall productivity to date of this collaboration,” Dr Milne said.

Protagonist founder, IMB Associate Professor Mark Smythe, said he is encouraged to see research progressing towards the market for the benefit of patients who need relief.

“Our partnership with Ironwood is vital to bringing our research to market, and we are excited to be working with their finest researchers towards our shared goal of improving the lives of those affected by diseases that are inadequately treated.

“This expanded collaboration brings our goal closer to reality and reaffirms the global relevance and strength of the pioneering research happening in Queensland and at the IMB.

“This is a great example of a partnership between the IMB, The University of Queensland, an Australian biotech company and a US pharmaceutical company.”

For more information on Protagonist Therapeutics, Inc. visit:

Help improve the quality of life of those suffering and in pain by donating now to drug discovery at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience: or by calling (07) 3346 2132.

The Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) is The University of Queensland’s flagship research institute where more than 450 researchers from around the world come every day to discover ways to improve the quality of life for us all.

Media contact:

Bronwyn Adams - IMB Communications Officer: (07) 3346 2134 or