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Q-Sera Pty Ltd, the latest biotechnology company formed to commercialise intellectual property from The University of Queensland (UQ), has raised $900,000 from Australia’s Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF) and the Uniseed Commercialisation Fund to develop an improved blood collection tube.

The start-up company will develop technology for producing high quality serum in a clinical setting, based on the blood clotting properties of specific snake venom.
 
UniQuest, UQ’s main commercialisation company, negotiated an agreement between UQ, MRCF and Uniseed to licence the innovative serum production technology to Q-Sera, which is based on the research of Dr  Martin Lavin from the UQ Centre for Clinical Research, Dr Paul Masci from the School of Medicine, Emeritus Professor John de Jersey AM from the School of Chemistry & Molecular Biosciences, and Dr Goce Dimeski.
 
“This investment is UQ’s first transaction with the MRCF, and 18th with Uniseed - that’s a powerful endorsement of UQ’s quality of translational research,” said UniQuest Managing Director, David Henderson, on the eve of the 2012 BIO International Convention.
 
“The Q-Sera deal also highlights the value that collaborations, between multi-disciplinary research teams and commercial funding bodies, can add to the efforts of Australian researchers working on innovative solutions to common clinical needs,” Mr Henderson said.
 
The Q-Sera technology aims to reduce the time required to produce high quality serum in blood clotting tubes, used in biochemical and other pathology assays and involves coating blood collection tubes with a naturally occurring coagulation agent, isolated from the venom of certain Australian snakes to accelerate the clotting of blood.
 
Serum is produced by allowing the blood to clot then applying centrifugation to separate the serum. Tubes currently used contain a clot activator, but they are unable to clot blood from some patients, e.g. cardiac patients taking anticoagulants such as warfarin or heparin. This limitation risks inaccurate clinical results and diagnosis.  
 
The Q-Sera research has demonstrated successful clotting of such blood samples, providing a higher degree of confidence around patient diagnosis and patient care.
 
Uniseed CEO Dr Peter Devine said the opportunity to add yet another uniquely Australian discovery to its biotechnology investment portfolio was particularly appealing.
 
“The Q-Sera research has isolated an important class of proteins from certain Australian snakes that have the ability to rapidly clot blood in a blood collection tube. The species may be native to Australia but the impact of this technology is likely to be felt worldwide,” Dr Devine said.
 
MRCF Investment Manager Dr Bev Thomas said the opportunity to support Q-Sera reflected the Fund’s charter to foster best practice in the commercialisation of innovation and to support Australia’s emerging medical discoveries to generate returns for its investors. 
 
“We immediately recognised the global application of the technology and its potential to improve diagnosis and ultimately patient outcomes.”
 
“In clinical settings, particularly where urgent test results are required, the wait for the analysis of serum can delay lifesaving treatment or cause errors in patient diagnosis. By investing in Q-Sera we are working to improve the process.”
 
No other terms of the agreement have been disclosed. However, as UniQuest represents a number of life sciences institutes that are members of the MRCF research community and the universities which founded Uniseed, the Q-Sera transaction is expected to help pave a promising path for future investment agreements with both funding bodies.
 
 
Media enquiries: 
UniQuest: Leanne Wyvill +61 7 3365 4037, 0409 767 199 or l.wyvill@uniquest.com.au
Uniseed: Peter Devine 0409 631 581 or p.devine@uniseed.com
MRCF: Bev Thomas 0419 519182 or bthomas@brandoncapital.com.au
 
 
Postscript
The Q-Sera investment is one of several announcements from UniQuest coinciding with this year’s BIO (booth 3435).