Qld company raises millions for drug research

Friday, 29 September, 2006

A Queensland biotechnology company has raised AU$11.9 m to fund the development of new types of therapeutic drugs.

Protagonist, whose technology is based on research at The University of Queensland's Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB), has announced the closing of Series A financing, led by Lilly Ventures, together with co-investors StarFish Ventures and Queensland BioCapital Funds (QBF).

Protagonist was spun out by the IMB's commercialisation company, IMBcom, in 2001. The company targets disorders such as asthma, rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis, gastro-intestinal disorders and diabetes-related conditions.

"This funding is extremely important for us as it means we can continue our research and advance our drugs to clinical trials," Dr Mark Smythe, CEO and founder of Protagonist, said.

Protagonist uses the drug discovery facilities at the IMB to identify chemical compounds that could be used to target disease-causing proteins, reversing or inhibiting their effects.

The company is working towards replacing current medication that must be injected intravenously with oral or non-injectable treatments.

Dr Peter Isdale, CEO of IMBcom, said that the investment of venture capital was significant by Australian standards.

"IMB research has led to the establishment of 10 biotechnology start-up companies by IMBcom since 2000 and more than $64 m has been invested in their growth," Isdale said.


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