Hudson building a biotech hub following Nexvet success

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The Hudson Institute of Medical Research is looking to foster more biotech start-ups following the successful incubation of Nasdaq-listed pet biopharmaceutical company, Nexvet.

Nexvet now employs more than 30 full-time staff, is worth around US$63 million and is one of a very small group of biotechs of Australian origin to be listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange in the United States.

For the past five years, Nexvet’s research and development has been based within the Hudson Institute in Melbourne.

Nexvet co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer Dr David Gearing was working in commercialisation at Monash University when he recognised a gap in the market for antibody-based therapeutic drugs and pain relief for companion pets.

Friends and contacts provided seed funding, while the Hudson Institute provided a lab bench and a part-time scientist so Nexvet could set about testing the hypothesis that animals could respond to antibody therapies.

“That was the start, half a bench and half a scientist,” said Dr Gearing.

“The Hudson Institute gave us a huge advantage in the start-up stage by providing us with a managed laboratory space and a collaborative environment, it’s an excellent environment for anyone wanting to start a biotech. The Institute’s done a fantastic job of nurturing our business.”

The initial experiments led to the validation of PETization, Nexvet’s proprietary platform technology, which allows monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to be recognized as “native” by an animal’s immune system. This technology led to the development of Nexvet’s product candidates.

Hudson Director, Professor Bryan Williams, says Nexvet’s success story provides a strong precedent for other biotech start-ups looking for a base.

“At the Hudson Institute, we have a can-do attitude, and access to the expertise and lab space of an MRI is invaluable and fertile soil for biotech start-ups,” said Professor Williams.

The Institute is now courting a number of biotech start-ups to be based within a new, state-of-the-art federally-funded $87.5 million Translational Research Facility, which the Hudson shares with its partners, Monash Health and Monash University at the Monash Health Translational Precinct in Clayton.

“Clayton is already a medical and biomedical hub, with the Hudson Institute, Monash Health, Monash University and several drug companies all based within a few square kilometres of one another,” said Professor Williams.