CSL and government-backed fund support new university spinout

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A new company spun-out out of the University of Melbourne has been backed by the federally-funded Biomedical Translation Fund and CSL.

The new company, Denteric, is developing a vaccine for periodontal gum disease. It has been backed with a $14 million investment from Brandon Capital’s Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF), CSL and the University of Melbourne.

The investment will go towards progressing the vaccine research program. It was a lead program at the Oral Health CRC, which was funded under the Australian Government’s Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) Program from 2003 to 2018.

The Oral Health CRC, which has long been supported by funding from the Victorian Government, Australian Government, CSL and the University of Melbourne, is no longer part of the CRC Program.

As part of a new agreement, the CRC has been transformed into the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Oral Health Research, which will come under the Melbourne Dental School.

Denteric has been set-up to develop and commercialise the research outputs of a long-running program originating from the University of Melbourne working in collaboration with CSL. 

It will focus on developing a therapeutic vaccine for treating periodontal disease. It is a debilitating and painful form of gum disease which affects one-in-three people globally. The disease damages periodontal soft tissue and alveolar bones, which support teeth, due to an accumulation of bacteria.

The company says iit is looking to commence its first clinical trial in humans in the next two to three years.

Moderate to severe periodontitis affects more than 50 per cent of Australians over the age of 65 and is associated with diabetes, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, dementia and certain cancers. Poor oral hygiene is the leading cause of periodontitis but there are currently no cures available.

University of Melbourne Professor Eric Reynolds AO, founder and CEO of the Oral Health CRC, now COHR, says the creation of Denteric is an example of public-private collaboration within the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct.

“My team has been developing this critical treatment for periodontal disease over many years at the University of Melbourne,” said Professor Reynolds. “Today, in a true partnership with the Australian Government and private capital, we have launched a company which will bring a Melbourne-developed gum disease therapy to market.”

According to MRCF CEO Dr Chris Nave, “Current methods for treating periodontal disease are archaic and painful. Looking at the science and market opportunity for Denteric, the Porphyromonas gingivalis (Pg) vaccine research program has great promise and the vaccine would be a blockbuster if it comes to market.”

“We’ve seen significant potential in this treatment from the early days and we are pleased to continue our support for the program through Series A investment into Denteric. The potential to address unmet medical needs with a new vaccine is very important,” said CSL's senior vice president of research, Dr Andrew Nash.

University of Melbourne Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Jim McCluskey said: “We welcome the significant investment in this critical research, which has the potential to change the lives of people around the world."