Melbourne, Australia, 23 May, 2017 – Innavac Pty Ltd, a biotechnology company spun out of the University of Melbourne that is developing novel, synthetic Toll-like receptor (TLR) agonists as therapies for the prevention and treatment of respiratory infections, has secured AU$6.3 million venture capital support from Uniseed and the Brandon Capital managed Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF).
The initial investment by Uniseed and the MRCF will be used to fast-track the development of Innavac’s TLR agonists for the prevention and treatment of respiratory infections in high-risk patient populations with asthma or chronic lung diseases and further support its vaccine adjuvant technology. Early studies indicate that Innavac’s TLR agonists are broad-spectrum agents that leverage the innate immune system to prevent respiratory tract viral infections such as cold, flu, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and bacterial infections.
Innavac R&D activities will be undertaken through a collaboration between Innavac’s founding scientist, Professor David Jackson at the Department of Immunology of the University of Melbourne (Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity), and Dr Nathan Bartlett at the Hunter Medical Research Institute. These research teams bring together unique world class capabilities in TLR signaling and respiratory infection.
Commenting on the investment, Christophe Demaison, Innavac’s CEO said “Innavac is looking to transform the way we prevent respiratory infections with an entirely novel product concept. Having the financial support and domain expertise of Uniseed and MRCF is vital for the development of our products. It also highlights the strength of Australian innovation and productivity that comes from true collaboration between leading research teams.”
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About Innavac Pty Ltd
Established as a spin-out of the department of Microbiology & Immunology at the University of Melbourne, Innavac Pty Ltd is a biotechnology company aiming to transform the treatment and prevention of respiratory infections and enhance the effectiveness of vaccines through innovative new approaches. Innavac is developing novel, synthetic Toll-like receptor 2 receptor agonists that have been shown to activate the innate immune system in the respiratory tract and prevent viral and bacterial dissemination to the lungs. Innavac’s TLR2 agonists are also being developed as next-generation adjuvants for protein-based vaccines. For more information visit: www.innavac.com
Uniseed is a venture fund operating at the Universities of Melbourne, Queensland, New South Wales and Sydney, as well as the CSIRO. Uniseed’s mandate is to facilitate the commercialisation of research partner generated intellectual property by targeted investment in highly promising technologies. Uniseed’s investments cover a range of technology sectors. To date, the fund has exited four investments through trade sales; a drug to treat nerve pain (Spinifex Pharmaceuticals acquisition by Novartis for US$200M up‐front plus milestone payments); a drug in development to treat fibrosis (Fibrotech Therapeutics sale to Shire plc for US$75M up‐front plus milestone payments), an IT security technology (Vintela sale to Quest Software Inc. for US$75M) and a semi‐ conductor technology (Fultec sale to Bourns Semiconductor Inc) and one investment (Hatchtech) through an asset sale to Dr Reddy’s Laboratories in a deal worth $200M. A number of companies in Uniseed’s investment portfolio have products on the market, including Hydrexia, BT Imaging and Smart Sparrow), while other companies are collaborating with leading global companies in their respective fields (Nexgen Plants, Q‐Sera, TenasiTech). For more information, go to www.uniseed.com.
About the MRCF
The MRCF collaboration is managed by the venture capital firm Brandon Capital Partners, and provides seed and venture capital investment to support the development and growth of Australian life science companies.
Established in late 2007, the MRCF is a unique collaboration between major Australian superannuation funds, over 50 leading medical research institutes and research hospitals in Australia and New Zealand. The MRCF supports the development and commercialisation of very early-stage biomedical discoveries originating from these member research organisations, providing both capital and expertise to guide the successful development of new therapies. The MRCF acknowledges the support of the Australian and New Zealand governments, as well as the state governments of Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia, Queensland, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory. For more information visit: www.mrcf.com.au
About the Hunter Medical Research Institute
Based in the Hunter Region of NSW, the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) brings together 1500 medical researchers, students and support staff from the University of Newcastle and Hunter New England Local Health District to deliver community-focused translational research across a raft of illnesses. HMRI has seven key research programs: Brain and Mental Health, Cancer, Cardiovascular, Information Based Medicine, Pregnancy and Reproduction, Public Health and Viruses, Infections/Immunity, Vaccines and Asthma (VIVA). Dr Bartlett is a viral immunologist who formerly worked within the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London before last year establishing a research group at HMRI investigating the viral causes of asthma and COPD exacerbations. For more information visit: www.hmri.org.au.
About the University of Melbourne
The University of Melbourne is one of Australia’s premier scientific, health and medical universities and is consistently ranked among the leading universities in the world. The University’s Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Services educates more health professionals, graduates more research and higher degree students and attracts more nationally competitive funding than any other Australian university. With a long-standing history of more than 150 years, the University’s commitment to innovation and its legacy of world class excellence in research, lays the foundation for new generations of biomedical researchers to lead the revolution in health and medicine, and improve the lives of individuals and communities locally and globally.
The University is located in the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct, on the edge of Melbourne’s CBD. This precinct has established itself as a leading global research and teaching powerhouse and one of the top-five biomedical precincts in the world.
About respiratory infections
Acute respiratory infections worldwide are the most common illness in humans and are associated with significant patient morbidity and related mortality. Viruses, including picornaviruses (mainly common cold rhinoviruses), influenza viruses, respiratory syncytial viruses, coronaviruses, adenoviruses and parainfluenza viruses, are the causal pathogen in most cases of respiratory tract infections.
Respiratory infections generally cause mild illnesses in the general population. For young children, the elderly, and sufferers of chronic conditions affecting the lungs, such as asthma, cystic fibrosis, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), respiratory tract infections can result in severe disease, hospitalization and death. In the US, it is estimated that non-influenza-related respiratory viral infections cost a total of $40 billion per annum, with direct medical costs representing about 45% of such burden. To date there is no widely effective medicine for the prevention or treatment of respiratory viral infections available.
Innavac & MRCF: Andrew Hamilton +61420 447 669 or firstname.lastname@example.org