Melbourne researchers get backing for potential ovarian cancer treatment

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Melbourne researchers developing a potential new treatment for ovarian cancer have attracted investment that will support its progression through early testing and into clinical trials.

Researchers at the Melbourne-based Hudson Institute of Medical Research have partnered with international investor Morningside Ventures to launch a spin-off company, Epsila Bio, to develop and commercialise the treatment.

The potential treatment is based on findings led by Hudson Institute researchers that the presence of a cytokine, interferon epsilon, in the female reproductive tract activates the body’s immune response to infections and has a similar immune response to cancer.

Hudson Institute chief commercialisation officer, Rob Merriel, said, “There’s a huge unmet need for a breakthrough ovarian cancer treatment. This is a silent disease which is often asymptomatic, and therefore discovered too late when it has already spread extensively. Current disease management is ultimately limited by the development of chemotherapy resistance.”

CEO of Epsila Bio, Dr Ronnie Farquhar, said, “Epsila Bio will leverage Morningside’s expertise and financial wherewithal to translate Hudson Institute’s outstanding research into a novel cancer therapeutic with meaningful patient benefit and large commercial market opportunity. The project will greatly be enabled by our strong relationships with Hudson Institute researchers.”