Startup raises $63M to develop drugs for inflammatory diseases

28 Nov 2018

Inflazome, a biotech company developing new drugs to block harmful inflammation, has secured further investment of $63 million. 

Launched in 2016, Inflazome was founded on research from The University of Queensland and Trinity College Dublin in Ireland.

The Series B financing will be used to advance the company’s small-molecule inhibitors of the NLRP3 inflammasome in to multiple clinical trials in 2019.  

Chronic activation of NLRP3 is linked to various medical conditions associated with inflammation including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, inflammatory bowel disease, gout, osteoarthritis, liver, kidney and cardiovascular diseases – conditions often inadequately treated by current therapies.

UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj welcomed the announcement.

“This investment is a testament to the quality of the underlying research originating from a highly productive international collaboration,” he said.

“It is the highest follow-on capital raise by any of UQ’s private startup companies, and brings the total capital raised by our startup portfolio to more than $700 million.”

Inflazome was founded on intellectual property licensed by UQ’s commercialisation company UniQuest, based on work by researchers from UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience(IMB) and Trinity College Dublin, including IMB’s Professor Matt Cooper, who is also the company’s CEO. 

Professor Cooper said the potential of NLRP3 inhibitors as a drug target was incredibly exciting. 

“We look forward to generating robust human proof of concept data with this financing, and making further progress towards developing a treatment to help millions of patients who are suffering with inflammatory diseases,” he said. 

Read more: New pathway in body's immune response uncovered

Associate Professor Kate Schroder and her team at UQ’s IMB have spent many years researching the NLRP3 inflammasome, a key biological pathway associated with chronic inflammation. 

“The inflammasome plays a critical role in the immune system, but when improperly activated, it can cause a myriad of inflammatory diseases,” she said.

“So we are thrilled about the potential for the development of NLRP3 inhibitors as drug candidates, as this could offer new treatments for many debilitating human diseases.” 

The financing round was led by life sciences venture capital firm Forbion, with Longitude Capital and founding investors Novartis Venture Fund and Fountain Healthcare Partners also participating.

The IMB research team included Dr Rebecca Coll and Professor Avril Robertson in collaboration with Associate Professor Trent Woodruff from UQ’s Faculty of Medicine, and Professor Luke O’Neill at Trinity College Dublin.