Biotech one step closer to bowel disease treatment

22 August 2016

University of Queensland spin-out biotech company Protagonist Therapeutics Inc is a step closer to developing a new drug that would benefit millions of people worldwide.

The company is headquartered in California with research operations at UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience in Brisbane.

It is working on the development of peptide-based oral drugs to treat inflammatory bowel disease including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

The company, backed by healthcare giants Lilly and Johnson & Johnson, raised $A118 million in its initial public offering of 7.5 million shares this month.

Protagonist Therapeutics Inc was established in 2001 based on research performed by Associate Professor Mark Smythe.

“Most inflammatory bowel disease treatments are injectable, so the development of an oral drug with few side effects would give us a distinct edge over our competition,” Dr Smythe said.

“This will be no easy feat, as the digestive system is a very complicated route for oral peptides, but these investments will help us take our discoveries in to the clinic where they will ultimately benefit patients.”

Institute for Molecular Bioscience Director Professor Brandon Wainwright said Protagonist’s Nasdaq stock market listing highlighted the global impact of the institute’s  innovative life sciences research.

“Discovery research is essential to further our understanding of disease and develop better treatments to help improve patients’ quality of life,” he said.

“Working with international counterparts, Institute for Molecular Bioscience scientists are building on Queensland’s globally competitive ability to treat unmet medical needs and create economic value.”

Protagonist Therapeutics Inc is listed on the Nasdaq under the symbol ‘PTGX’.

Media: IMB Communications Manager Heidi Jones, 3346 2134.