Time: 7:52

EpiAxis Therapeutics wins ‘Startup Slam’ in Germany

University of Canberra spin out company EpiAxis Therapeutics has taken out the Startup Slam at the BIO-Europe Autumn 2016 meeting, a major business partnering event for the global biotechnology industry in Germany.

EpiAxis is developing new treatments to minimise the recurrence of breast cancer and was the only Australian finalist in the Startup Slam.

CEO of EpiAxis, Dr Jeremy Chrisp, presented a three-minute pitch about the company and its research, going up against 14  international companies from the US, Germany, the UK, Sweden and Israel.

The company’s work is based on research by University of Canberra’s Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Sudha Rao, and her team, who have identified the pivotal enzyme system controlling the proliferation of circulating tumour and cancer stem cells that lead to metastatic disease. Professor Rao, EpiAxis’ CSO, and her team have identified small molecules and peptides against these novel enzyme targets.

EpiAxis was established in December 2015 after receiving investment support led by ANU Connect Ventures, a Canberra based venture capital firm.

Dr Chrisp impressed the five judges, representing Johnson & Johnson Innovation; the Lead Discovery Center GmbH; Wellington Partners; Janssen; and the Innovation Forum, an accelerator for science-based ventures.

As the winner, EpiAxis will receive mentorship from Johnson & Johnson Innovation and registration for BIO-Europe 2017.

Dr Chrisp said the competition was an excellent opportunity for EpiAxis’ work to reach an international audience.

“Winning the competition was fantastic recognition for the team, and being able to deliver a pitch to an audience of experienced investors and potential partners was an excellent opportunity. We believe this could lead to more global engagement and interest in our novel epigenetic program. We are aiming to have EpiAxis’ inhibitors included as standard of care for metastatic disease,” said Dr Chrisp.

Professor Rao said, “This has been a great opportunity to get people talking about our research and hopefully this will be a stepping stone to reach potential investors and partners in Europe and across the world.”

Kurt Hertogs of Johnson & Johnson Innovation said the judging panel was impressed with the startups that took to the stage, adding that they were delighted to uncover fresh talent in the biotech industry.

“These emerging entrepreneurs took the opportunity to pitch to a room full of leaders who have the ability to help advance the most promising science into potential transformative healthcare solutions,” he said.