UQ’s work on inflammatory disease treatment wins $22m global investment

12 September 2016

UQ’s work on inflammatory disease treatment wins $22m global investment.

Inflazome Ltd, a company founded on research from The University of Queensland (UQ) and Trinity College Dublin, has closed a Series A financing round of up to €15 million (A$22 million). 

The investment, co-led by two top global life science investment firms, Novartis Venture Fund and Fountain Healthcare Partners, is one of the largest biotech Series A investments for intellectual property originating from an Australian university.

It is the latest in a recent series of international commercialisation deals based on UQ research - including one of Australia’s biggest-ever biotechnology transactions, which involved a new class of chronic pain drug and Novartis International AG.

Inflazome, headquartered in Ireland, is developing treatments for inflammatory disorders including Parkinson’s disease and asthma.

The intellectual property is based on work by UQ Institute for Molecular Biosciences researchers Professor Matt Cooper, Dr Kate Schroder, Dr Rebecca Coll and Dr Avril Robertson; in collaboration with Professor Luke O’Neill at Trinity College Dublin.

UQ’s main commercialisation company, UniQuest, commercialised the research on behalf of UQ and Trinity College Dublin.

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj congratulated the researchers and UniQuest on the deal.

“The investment by Novartis Venture Fund and Fountain Healthcare Partners will allow Inflazome to further develop potential drug candidates for millions of people around the world who are effected by inflammatory diseases,” he said.

“It is a tremendous endorsement of UQ’s research, from global investors who are savvy at judging and working with some of the world’s best researchers.

“It is also the latest signal from discerning global investors that Australian universities – in this case UQ – are among the world’s best to deal with when industry aims to deliver life-enhancing products to a global market.”

Inflazome is developing treatments by inhibiting the inflammasome, a key biological pathway associated with a wide variety of diseases driven by chronic inflammation.

After the UQ-Trinity College Dublin collaboration resulted in a publication in a leading international journal, Nature Medicine, the jointly-owned intellectual property was exclusively licensed to Inflazome. 

Researcher Dr Kate Schroder said the potential for a small molecule inhibitor of this target was extremely promising. 

“We have spent many years researching the important pathway so are excited about the potential to develop a drug candidate that would help to treat millions of patients suffering inflammatory diseases,” Dr Schroder said.

The commercial deal follows the release of Academic Rankings of World Universities by Broad Subject Fields 2016, which ranks UQ 20th in the world for life sciences research.

It is the highest ranking for an Australian university in any of the five subject fields evaluated in the prestigious index.

Media: UniQuest Intellectual Property Commercialisation Director Dr Mark Ashton, m.ashton@uniquest.com.au, +61 (0) 410 601 970.