UniQuest, the main technology transfer and commercialisation company of The University of Queensland, has signed an exclusive worldwide licensing agreement with US-based GlycoMimetics, Inc. to two patent applications relating to the use of E-selectin antagonists to help reduce the risk of deadly infections for chemotherapy patients.

Researchers at The University of Queensland’s Mater Research Institute (MRI-UQ) have shown that E-selectin antagonists prevent chemotherapy from depleting the body’s own stem cells which give rise to white blood cells necessary to protect the body from infection.  The discovery was developed by MRI-UQ Associate Professor Ingrid Winkler and Professor Jean-Pierre Levesque.

“Chemotherapy is designed to kill rapidly dividing cells, such as cancerous tumours, however normal cells are also killed,” Associate Professor Winkler said.  “All white blood cells originate from haematopoietic stem cells and people are born with a finite number of these specialist white cell factories.  Chemo targets these stem cells and patients can be placed at high risk from infections that overwhelm the body and leave them with little chance of fighting back.  Administration of an E-selectin antagonist may help to preserve the precious haematopoietic stem cells and minimise patients’ risk of becoming ill or dying from infection after chemotherapy” she said.

UniQuest CEO Dr. Dean Moss said this deal is an outcome of a multi-year alliance with GlycoMimetics. “This deal is pre-dated by six years of sponsored-research facilitated by UniQuest between the MRI-UQ researchers and GlycoMimetics.  During that period, we are delighted to say we helped Associate Professor Winkler in her successful application for an NHMRC Career Development Award Level 2 Industry Fellowship which requires an industry partner.  Certainly having GlycoMimetics, a clinical-stage, US-based, NASDAQ-listed biotechnology company committed to helping make a difference in the lives of people living with cancer as a partner was also a great help” Dr Moss said.

GlycoMimetics is a leader in the field of engineered carbohydrate “mimetic” drug therapies and has an extensive library of small molecules known as E-selectin antagonists.  Selectins are involved in numerous biological processes including, but not limited to, cell differentiation, migration, tumor progression and metastases, inflammation and infection.

“We have had a long-standing, fruitful collaboration with Mater Research” said Armand Girard, Vice President of Corporate Development at GlycoMimetics.  “Securing these two method-of-use patent applications ensures that we will continue to have a dominant IP position as it relates to the broad utility of E-selectin antagonists.”

UniQuest is proud to have facilitated the licensing agreement that may see the MRI-UQ invention go into clinical trials and ultimately benefit cancer patients receiving chemotherapy.

Under the terms of the agreement, UniQuest will receive fees including an upfront plus royalties on sales. The financial terms were not disclosed.

Media Contact UniQuest: Andrew Harvey 0409 767 199

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