New company Inflazome will tackle chronic inflammatory diseases

Posted on: 12 September 2016

Inflazome Ltd, a company founded to develop molecules and associated intellectual property discovered at Trinity College Dublin and at The University of Queensland, and licensed from UniQuest, has closed a Series A financing round of €15 million. 

Inflazome, headquartered in Dublin, is developing first-in-class treatments for inflammatory diseases by developing inhibitors of the inflammasome, which is a key biological target that regulates our innate immune response. The inflammasome is now associated with a wide variety of diseases driven by chronic inflammation, some of which have limited treatment options. 

The intellectual property is based on the Science Foundation Ireland-funded research of Professor of Biochemistry at Trinity, Luke O’Neill, and Professor Matt Cooper, Dr Kate Schroder, Dr Rebecca Coll and Dr Avril Robertson from the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

Following a highly productive joint collaboration resulting in a Nature Medicine publication, the jointly owned intellectual property is now licensed exclusively to Inflazome. UniQuest has been responsible for the commercialisation of the research on behalf of both institutions.

Professor O’Neill and his team initially discovered that a known molecule seemed to suppress the target inflammasome. In collaboration with Professor Cooper, the team developed and subsequently patented new therapeutic inhibitor compounds based on this molecule. These compounds are now being developed by Inflazome and hopes are high that they might be useful new treatments for a range of inflammatory diseases.

The investment will allow Inflazome to further develop inflammasome inhibitors, with the initial tranche of investment helping to advance the compounds towards the clinic for the lead indications.

Trinity’s Senior Patents & Licensing Manager, Dr Emily Vereker, said: “The high-calibre collaboration from both institutions that led to the commercial deal highlights the importance of cross-disciplinary research that marries medicinal chemistry and biological target identification.”

UniQuest CEO Dr Dean Moss said the deal signalled global market confidence in UniQuest and the quality of research at The University of Queensland (UQ).

Dr Moss said: “This deal is an endorsement of the quality of the research at The University of Queensland and the world-leading life science research institute, the Institute for Molecular Bioscience. We are grateful for the confidence shown in our research as demonstrated by the commitment of Novartis Venture Fund and Fountain Healthcare Partners.” 

Dr Manus Rogan, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Fountain Healthcare Partners and chair of the board of Inflazome, said: “Considering the breadth and depth of possible applications, the commercial potential for a successful small molecule inhibitor of this key target is clearly in the billions of dollars range.”

Florent Gros, Managing Director at Novartis Venture Fund said: “We have searched extensively for inhibitors of the inflammasome. We are very excited by the prospects for Inflazome; the company has outstanding assets, expertise and capabilities.”

Dublin is a location of increasing bioscience investment — VC investment for bioscience companies rose from 6% in 2004 to 27% in 2015.

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