UQ medical research recognised on national stage

31 October 2016

Two companies founded on University of Queensland research have won acclaim at the National AusBiotech Conference in Melbourne.

The AusBiotech and Johnson & Johnson’s Innovation Industry Excellence Awards have recognised Protagonist Therapeutics as Australian Company of the Year and ResApp Health as the Australian Emerging Company of the Year.

Protagonist Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, is developing oral drugs for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

The work is founded on research from UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB).

In August, Protagonist raised $US90 million in its initial public offering of 7.5 million shares on the NASDAQ stock market.

ResApp is developing a smartphone medical application for the diagnosis and management of respiratory disease, based on research from the UQ Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology (EAIT).

ResApp this year announced the results of an adult clinical study, showing that the company’s algorithms analysing the sound of patients’ coughs achieved between 91 per cent and 100 per cent accuracy in differentiating patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease from those with asthma or pneumonia, and from those with no apparent respiratory disease.

ResApp Health has raised more than $16 million since listing on the Australian Stock Exchange mid last year.

UniQuest CEO Dr Dean Moss said Protagonist Therapeutics and ResApp Health were worthy award recipients and deserved their national recognition.

“These companies are fantastic examples of the successful translation of research excellence,” he said.

“They are bringing ground-breaking UQ discoveries to market, where these treatments and diagnostic tools have the potential to create huge change around the world.”

IMB Director Professor Brandon Wainwright congratulated IMB group leader and Protagonist Therapeutics founder Associate Professor Mark Smythe.

“Mark and his team have worked for more than 15 years to drive this important and innovative research out of the lab and into the clinic, where it can create change on a global scale, improving lives and revolutionising medicine,” Professor Wainwright said.

EAIT Executive Dean Professor Simon Biggs lauded the achievements of Associate Professor Udantha Abeyratne, who developed the technology behind ResApp.

“With this technology, Udantha has made an outstanding contribution in the diagnosis and management of respiratory disease around the world,” Professor Biggs said.

Contact: UniQuest communications: Nicole Cowan, n.cowan@uniquest.com.au, 0409 767 199