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The University of Technology, Sydney’s (UTS) ithree institute has launched Helmedix Pty Ltd with a A$1.25 million investment from Australia’s Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF).

Novel therapies for autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, colitis, psoriasis and multiple sclerosis will be the focus of a new Australian biotech company launched this week.

UTS research commercialisation partner, UniQuest, negotiated the agreement for Helmedix Pty Ltd to license intellectual property (IP) from the ithree institute. The MRCF funding will enable Helmedix to develop therapeutic peptide drugs based on that IP for preventing and treating immunological diseases which affect millions of people around the world.   

“Bringing together the MRCF and the ithree institute to launch Helmedix is an excellent example of university research and industry sector collaboration which will translate into benefits for the wider community,” said UniQuest Acting CEO,Dean Moss.

“This is the first major start-up investment UniQuest has facilitated for the ithree institute, and our second with the MRCFin the past 12 months,” Dr Moss said.

The Helmedix research team led by Dr Sheila Donnelly has identified a number of immune modulating peptides derived from parasitic helminth worms, one of which is effective in suppressing the inflammatory response of the host and has shown therapeutic potential in a mouse model of type 1 diabetes. T

his immune modulating activity indicates potential broader application in a variety of other autoimmune diseases.  

Dr Stephen Thompson, Director of Helmedix and Partner at Brandon Capital (the venture capital firm that manages the MRCF) said Helmedix is a great example of the type of early stage opportunity that the MRCF is set up  to support.

“Its discoveries have broad potential to impact a number of autoimmune diseases and we look forward working with the team to progress the technology further towards commercial development,” Dr Thompson said.

While the MRCF investment will help to progress lead optimisation and pre-clinical development of the immune modulating peptides over the next two years, Helmedix will subsequently seek further investment or industry partnerships to move the helminth-derived peptides through clinical development as a treatment for autoimmune and other inflammatory diseases (subject to meeting milestones).

 

About the ithree institute www.ithreeinstitute.uts.edu.au/
The ithree institute at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) brings together an internationally competitive team focused on addressing key challenges in the understanding and control of infectious diseases in humans and animals. The institute’s innovative science uses a systems biology approach to develop a greater insight into basic biology and its application to the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of infectious diseases.

About the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF) www.mrcf.com.au
The $51 million Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF) is an innovative investment collaboration established in 2007 and managed by Brandon Capital Partners (www.brandoncapital.com.au). The MRCF invests in early stage development and commercialisation opportunities emanating from its membership of 32 Australian medical research institutes and allied research hospitals, which includes the ithree Institute at UTS. The MRCF IIF, LP fund is supported by AustralianSuper, StatewideSuper and the Australian Government under its IIF program. The MRCF also acknowledges the support of the State Governments of Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia and Queensland.