Uniseed increases stake in Ena Respiratory
30 NOVEMBER 2020: Uniseed, a venture fund operating at leading Australian universities, has increased its stake in Australian biotechnology company Ena Respiratory which is developing a potentially landmark preventive treatment for COVID-19.
Ena Respiratory has developed a nasal spray product INNA-051 which boosts the human innate immune system to fight multiple respiratory viral infections, including COVID-19, the common cold and influenza.
Uniseed Commercialisation Fund, Uniseed Follow-on Fund and Uniseed Co-Investment Fund (Stoic VC) have increased stakes in Ena Respiratory as part of a Series A extension round of $11.7 million led by the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund managed by Brandon Capital.
CEO of Uniseed, Peter Devine said the leading seed fund was excited by the prospect that Ena Respiratory provided an effective treatment for COVID-19.
“A recently completed study led by British government agency Public Health England on ferrets showed that INNA-051 boosted the innate immune system response before infection and reduced virus replication by up to 96 per cent,” Dr Devine said.
“While the world scrambles to find a vaccine, Ena Respiratory’s nasal spray could provide an important therapy to aid immunity and recovery from COVID-19, if it is found to work in humans.
“It could also assist in reducing the spread of this invidious disease.”
“Ena Respiratory is an example of an Australian company building on medical research to provide a solution to a billion-dollar global health challenge,” Dr Devine said.
Formed in 2000, Uniseed is Australia’s longest running university commercialisation fund. Uniseed has supported a number of highly successful companies arising from partner research organisations, such as the University of Melbourne’s Fibrotech (sold to Shire in 2014) and Hatchtech (sold to Dr Reddy’s Laboratories in 2015); the University of Queensland’s Spinifex (sold to Novartis in 2015); and the University of NSW’s Smart Sparrow (sold to Pearson in 2019) and Exonate (major research collaboration with J&J announced in 2020). Uniseed is a mutual fund, owned by research organisations, for research organisations. The fund facilitates the commercialisation of its research partners’ most promising intellectual property and secures targeted investment in resulting products and technologies. For more information, visit: https://uniseed.com
About Ena Respiratory
Ena Respiratory is a wholly-owned subsidiary company of Ena Therapeutics, aiming to transform the treatment and prevention of respiratory infections in at-risk populations.
Ena Respiratory is developing novel, synthetic innate immunomodulators for the prevention of respiratory viral and bacterial infections. The company is based in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia. Ena Therapeutics has secured a Series A investment from the Brandon Capital managed Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF) and Uniseed.
Ena Respiratory’s lead candidate, INNA-051 is a synthetic, pegylated TLR2/6 agonist. INNA-051 is developed for topical delivery to the airways (via nasal spray once/twice a week) in order to target the primary site of most respiratory virus infections, including COVID-19, influenza and rhinovirus. Topical respiratory administration of Ena Respiratory’s pegylated TLR2/6 agonists result in the activation of several key, innate immune defence mechanisms involved in antiviral prophylaxis. INNA-051 is based on discoveries made by Professorial Fellow David Jackson and his team. Professor Jackson heads the laboratory at the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, University of Melbourne.
The broad antiviral effectiveness of Ena Respiratory’s pegylated TLR2/6 agonists has been demonstrated in animal preclinical models of respiratory viruses, including influenza and rhinovirus (common cold) and secondary bacterial infection models.
INNA-051 efficacy against COVID-19 has been confirmed in a ferret challenge model by the team led by Professor Miles Carroll at Public Health England. In this study, INNA-051 was administrated as prophylaxis. In the optimal dose regimen, after 5 days post-exposure to COVID-19, INNA-051 treated animals had statistically significant reduction of virus in throat swabs (96% reduction) and nasal washes (93% reduction) compared to untreated animals, despite very high levels of virus exposure (about 5 million virus particles were administrated in these studies).