Ondek, the Australian biotechnology company founded by Nobel Laureate Professor Barry Marshall, has raised $3.59 million in equity funding from professional and high-net-worth investors.
Ondek is seeking to exploit the human microbiome to develop a new immunotherapy based on the bacterium Helicobacter pylori.
"The company has patented a killed derivative of H. pylori to be developed as a natural and safe immunotherapy named ImmBALANCE," it said.
"The first target indication for ImmBALANCE is childhood eczema because the researchers believe the product is likely to be most effective during development of the immune system. ImmBALANCE® will also be tested against existing allergies and other chronic inflammatory diseases in adults."
The company said its strategy is to develop its first product through to clinical proof of concept before partnering with a global pharmaceutical firm with the capacity to complete clinical development and take the product to international markets.
According to CEO Dr Jenny Harry, “Capital raised will be prudently deployed to scale up manufacturing of the new drug compound and generate pre-clinical safety and efficacy data ahead of a meeting with the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) later next year to seek guidance and permission to start regulatory toxicology studies and human trials.”
This capital raising adds to the NH&MRC development grant of $919,596 Ondek has available to support clinical trials of the product.
Australian investors supporting the capital raising included Dymocks Group chairman John Forsyth and the founder of Perth-based construction and property company ABN Group, Dale Alcock.
Sydney-based Dymocks Group chairman John Forsyth said, “We are pleased to provide additional support for Ondek through this new equity investment. I have enormous regard for Barry Marshall and his work. We believe Ondek and its products have significant commercial potential in current and developing healthcare markets.”
A leader in Australia’s Construction, Property and Finance sectors, ABN Group founder and managing director, Dale Alcock said, “We see great value in backing the highly credentialed team behind Ondek. The rapid development of this important Australian business will allow it to realise significant global potential.”
Ondek’s chairman Peter Hammond said, “Over the last few decades, there has been a dramatic rise in the prevalence of allergic diseases. According to the World Allergy Organization, an estimated 30 per cent to 40 per cent of the global population suffered from some form of allergic condition in 2011. We thank our shareholders for their support and believe successful completion of the next phase of product development will significantly increase the value of their current investment.”
Professor Marshall said “the wider medical community is recognising the important role of the microbiome in regulating the immune system. H. pylori is a unique member of the natural gut microbiome and has a potent immune regulatory function. I am very excited to be able to exploit this natural immune modulatory trait of H. pylori to shape the potential of future treatments for allergy.”