A startup company developing treatments for inflammatory diseases based on a research partnership between The University of Queensland and Trinity College Dublin (TCD) has been acquired in a landmark deal – one of the largest in the history of the Australian and Irish biotechnology industries.
Inflazome has been acquired by Roche for an upfront cash payment of €380 million (~A$617 million) plus additional payments based on the achievement of agred milestones.
The company was founded in 2016 following a research collaboration between UQ and TCD, with UQ’s technology transfer company UniQuest leading the commercialisation of the resulting intellectual property (IP).
Headquartered in Dublin, the company is developing drugs to address clinical unmet needs in inflammatory diseases by targeting inflammasomes, which are understood to drive many chronic inflammatory conditions.
The acquisition gives Roche full rights to Inflazome’s portfolio of inflammasome inhibitors.
UQ Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Deborah Terry AO welcomed the acquisition and congratulated those involved.
“This is an outstanding outcome for the company, both universities, the researchers and the investors,” said Professor Terry.
“Now more than ever, the value of research translation to support the recovery of our economies cannot be understated.
“This deal reinforces the importance of research collaboration and shows what can be achieved through commercialisation.”
Trinity College Dublin Provost Dr Patrick Prendergast added his congratulations.
“This is wonderful news, first and foremost for the many people across the world with diseases like Parkinson’s who stand to benefit from these discoveries,” said Dr Prendergast.
“It is also a boost for the Irish scientific community and for Trinity College Dublin, where the ideas originated that led to the collaboration with UQ and the subsequent foundation of Inflazome.
“Investigator-led research drives the innovation economy and this news offers tangible evidence of its importance and also what can be achieved through partnership.
“We congratulate all of the researchers involved for their tireless commitment to discovery and innovation and for making a real difference in society.”
In a joint statement, UniQuest CEO Dr Dean Moss and Trinity Research and Innovation Director Leonard Hobbs said the deal echoed global market confidence in the quality of research at Trinity and UQ.
“This is one of the largest Australian and Irish biotech deals and follows the company’s Series B capital raise of A$63 million in 2018,” said Dr Moss.
“It’s wonderful to see it eventuate, bringing much-needed treatment options a step closer to reality.”
Two of the company’s drug candidates are in clinical trials for the treatment of conditions such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis and neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and motor neuron disease.
The IP behind Inflazome’s drug candidates is based on a research partnership between Professor Matt Cooper, Professor Kate Schroder, Dr Rebecca Coll and Professor Avril Robertson from UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience and Professor Luke O’Neill from Trinity College Dublin.
Inflazome is supported by a syndicate of investors, including Novartis Venture Fund and Fountain Healthcare Partners, Longitude Capital and Forbion.