CUREator deploys $7.21 Million to propel local life sciences potential

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CUREator by Brandon BioCatalyst has announced the deployment of $7.21 million in funding to support eight biotechnology companies across their clinical and preclinical streams.

The funding is via the federal government's Medical Research Future Fund's Early-Stage Translation and Commercialisation Support (ESTAC) grant.

This latest competitive commercial grant funding round will allocate $5.84 million to five clinical-stage companies - Ena Respiratory, GPN Vaccines, OncoStrike Biopharma, PolyActiva, and Respirion Pharmaceuticals. This funding will enable the companies to explore the efficacy of novel drugs or innovative applications for existing medications.

South Australian biotechnology GPN Vaccines is developing a new vaccine with the potential to prevent pneumococcal disease. They will use the $936,000 grant to extend their first-in-human trial to investigate the broad activity against pneumococcal serotypes and demonstrate the duration of the immune response.

GPN Chair and CEO Professor Tim Hirst said, “The CUREator grant comes at a pivotal moment for GPN Vaccines as we progress from being a Phase 1 clinical-stage company to a Phase 2 company. Being able to conduct a study on the durability of the immune response will strengthen the valuation proposition of our pneumococcal vaccine and assist us as we seek to secure future investment.”

CUREator, which delivers funding in tranches based on milestone attainment like an investor, allows the redistribution of funds from unmet milestones to supplement top-up funding rounds. Top-up funding is awarded on a competitive basis to fund projects that have met their project outcomes and displayed substantial progress to accelerate the development of their opportunity.

Currus Biologics, Frontier Inflammasome Therapeutics and Setonix Pharmaceuticals were allocated a further $1.37 million from the CUREator Investment Review Committee in the preclinical stream 'top-up' round.

University of Queensland Professor Kate Schroder, who heads the Inflammasome Laboratory that is developing a first-in-class potential therapy to treat inflammatory conditions, said, “The additional $500,000 of milestone-dependent funding from CUREator will enable our continued development - informed by advice from industry, pharma and local and international venture capitalists - of potential drugs for debilitating inflammatory conditions that currently do not have effective treatment options.”  

Thus far, CUREator's ESTAC program has supported 42 clinical and preclinical stage companies, with one more competitive round of top-up funding for the Preclinical stream funding recipients expected this year.

Dr Amanda Vrselja, Program Head of CUREator, said, “To date, CUREator-backed companies have secured $45.7m in private sector capital cash and in-kind support, which is a fantastic leverage on the $37.4m deployed by the program. With more in the pipeline, this achievement affirms CUREator’s place in the innovation infrastructure supporting Australia's economic transformation beyond mining”.