QRxPharma Limited, established by UniQuest in 2002 to commercialise therapeutics research from The University of Queensland (UQ), has formed Venomics Pty Ltd, a company that established a joint venture with Liaoning Nuokang Medicines Co Ltd (Nuokang), to develop the commercial potential of two snake-venom based discoveries.
Seeking to finance clinical trials for dual opioid drug research initiated within UQ’s Faculty of Health Sciences, QRxPharma made ASX history as Australia’s biggest biotechnology float in 2007. The company, which had an initial market capitalisation of $150 million, issued 25 million shares to new investors to raise $50 million to develop pain therapy products.
Nuokang is a leading, fully integrated biopharmaceutical company based in Shenyang, China, which manufactures and markets haematological and cardiovascular products. Its flagship product, Baquting, is China’s most widely used haemocoagulase product for the treatment or prevention of bleeding, and contains an enzyme obtained from the venom of the snake species Bothrops atrox.
Nuokang’s investment of US$5M in QRxPharma’s venomics assets has led to the formation of Venomics Pty Ltd, a Hong Kong-based subsidiary company incorporated in Australia, with operations in China. The new company will be led by Ms Janette Dixon as CEO. QRxPharma CEO and Managing Director, Dr John Holaday, will assume the role of Chairman of the Board of Directors.
“This is a very important milestone for one of UniQuest’s most successful start-up companies,” said UniQuest’s Managing Director, David Henderson.
“Strategic partnerships like this make it possible for Australian research commercialisation to benefit on many levels. The capital injection will help to advance the venomics research, while the collaboration will open up new market contacts and opportunities for QRxPharma’s other technologies in the fields of pain management and neurodegenerative disease,” said Mr Henderson.
“We congratulate the QRxPharma team on securing this investment and the opportunity to work with a leading international biotech company renowned for its extensive experience in developing therapeutics for the market.”
Venomics Pty Ltd will license the rights to commercialise two lead haemostasis product candidates: Textilinin, an antifibrinolytic agent and HaempatchTM, a potent pro-coagulant, which were developed at The University of Queensland by Professor Martin Lavin’s group in the University’s Centre for Clinical Research.
• Textilinin has potential to reduce blood loss in major surgery. In pre-clinical testing, Textilinin has compared favourably to other antifibrinolytic products, particularly in relation to side effects.
• Haempatch is highly effective in clotting blood and stopping blood flow (haemostasis) and has shown promising results in pre-clinical testing.
The lack of effective treatments for blood loss in surgery and trauma has generated a clear market for products like Textilinin and Haempatch, the two main venomics therapeutics currently in the QRxPharma technology pipeline.
The transfer of QRxPharma’s venomics assets to the new company was officially announced on 24 September, with the transaction expected to be completed next month. UniQuest will continue to support commercialisation opportunities for other venomics research projects at UQ and its partner research commercialisation institutions.
UniQuest Pty Limited
Established by The University of Queensland in 1984, UniQuest is widely recognised as one of Australia’s largest and most successful university commercialisation groups, benchmarking in the top tier of technology transfer worldwide. From an intellectual property portfolio of 1,500+ patents it has created over 60 companies, and since 2000 UniQuest and its start-ups have raised more than $400 million to take university technologies to market. Annual sales of products using UQ technology and licensed by UniQuest are running at $3 billion. UniQuest now commercialises innovations developed at The University of Queensland and its commercialisation partner institutions: the University of Wollongong, University of Technology Sydney, James Cook University, University of Tasmania, Mater Medical Research Institute, and Queensland Health. UniQuest also provides access to an expansive and exclusive network of independent academics to tailor a consulting or project R&D solution to meet the diverse needs of industry and government, facilitating some 500 consulting, expert opinion, testing, and contract research services each year.
UniQuest is also a leading Australasian provider of international development assistance recognised for excellence in technical leadership, management and research. Working with agencies such as AusAID, NZAID, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank, UniQuest has developed and implemented more than 400 projects in 46 countries throughout the Pacific, South-East Asia, the Indian sub-continent and Africa.
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QRxPharma Limited (ASX: QRX and OTCQX: QRXPY) is a clinical-stage specialty pharmaceutical company with a core focus on the development and commercialization of new treatments for pain management and central nervous system (CNS) disorders. Based on a development strategy which focuses on enhancing and expanding the clinical utility of currently marketed compounds, the Company’s product portfolio includes both late and early stage clinical drug candidates with the potential for reduced risk, abbreviated development paths, and improved patient outcomes. The Company intends to directly commercialize its products in the US and seek strategic partnerships abroad. QRxPharma’s lead compound, MoxDuo? IR, successfully completed a Phase 3 study and met primary and secondary endpoints. The Company’s preclinical and clinical pipeline includes other technologies in the fields of pain management, neurodegenerative disease and venomics.
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