Contact:   Peter Devine

Professor Maree Smith

Professor Maree Smith

Spinifex is a start-up company from the University of Queensland that developed a potential first-in-class oral treatment for neuropathic pain and related symptoms without central nervous system side effects. Spinifex completed a phase II clinical trial with its lead product, EMA401 in patients with post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN). PHN is a painful condition that develops in some patients following herpes zoster infection (shingles). In 2015, Spinifex was acquired by Novartis International AG for US$200m plus over $500m in future payments based on developmental and regulatory milestones.

Awards & recognition:

  • Spinifex Pharmaceuticals was named “Company of the Year” at the Johnson & Johnson Innovation 2015 Industry Excellence Awards announced at the opening of AusBiotech 2015 national conference on 18th October 2015.  The awards recognise the leading lights of Australia’s world-class biotech, medical technology and healthcare sectors.
  • Professor Maree Smith, inventor of the Spinifex technology and Executive Director, Centre for Integrated Preclinical Drug Development (CIPDD)/TetraQ, University of Queensland was awarded the 2015 J&J AusBiotech Industry Leadership Award, the 2015 Australian Pain Society Distinguished Members Award and was the inaugural inductee in the Life Sciences Queensland Hall of Fame. In 2019 Professor Smith was named a Companion of the Order of Australia.
  • Spinifex Pharmaceuticals Inc. was awarded the Australian Venture Capital Association (AVCAL) Best Early Stage Deal of the Year 2015. Earlier that year, Spinifex reached an agreement with Novartis under which Novartis purchased Spinifex for an upfront payment of US$200 million and certain contingent payments of up to US$500 million based on the achievement of development and regulatory milestones.
  • BioSpectrum Asia, the leading publication on Life Sciences in Asia-Pacific published from Singapore, chose University of Queenalnd spin-out Spinifex Pharmaceuticals for the 4th BioSpectrum Asia-Pacific Emerging Company of the Year Award 2012. The company was chosen for its innovative work on EMA-401, a potential first-in-class oral treatment for neuropathic pain and related symptoms without central nervous system side effects. This award follows EMA-401 being named one of the five most promising drugs in Phase 2 trials by Thomson Reuters in 2011. EMA-401 is being developed for the treatment of neuropathic (nerve) pain. Spinifex has previously completed a number of Phase I clinical trials with no significant safety issue reported.  In 2012, a phase 2 study in neuropathic pain (post herpetic neuralgia) was successfully completed with a very positive result achieved.  The trial hit its primary endpoint of a statistically significant change in pain from baseline to the last week of treatment, when comparing the EMA401 and placebo groups. The trial also hit its two secondary endpoints which looked at onset and maintenance of effect (statistically significant in the 3rd week of treatment) and the number of patients achieving 30% pain reduction.