Australian start-up OccuRx accelerates therapy development for diseases associated with inflammation and fibrosis – the cause of 45% of all deaths globally1
Australian biotech start-up OccuRx today announces a $16m cash injection to progress into clinical phase studies for its oral therapy for inflammation and fibrosis – one of the leading causes of deaths globally.
This investment in OccuRx was jointly led by Brandon BioCatalyst and Uniseed and also includes a $1.5m grant from CUREator, Australia’s biomedical incubator.
The funding raised enables OccuRx to progress the Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) clinical program for the lead compound OCX-063, following successful outcomes in a healthy volunteer Phase I clinical trial.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects millions of patients worldwide, often as a result of other long-term illnesses, such as diabetes or cardiovascular conditions, where damage or trauma to the kidneys may lead to fibrosis. Unmanaged CKD often progresses to kidney failure, with patients requiring long-term dialysis or organ transplantation. There are currently no treatments available for kidney fibrosis, placing a significant burden on patients and healthcare systems alike.
OccuRx is progressing and validating novel targets that have been shown to mediate signalling pathways associated with inflammation and fibrosis in the development and progression of fibrotic diseases of major organs such as the eye and kidney.
Professor Darren Kelly, Executive Chair of OccuRx commented, “It’s an exciting time for us at OccuRx as we progress the clinical development program into patients with CKD, following on from the positive safety and tolerability results seen from our Phase I study. Our aim is to develop an oral therapy to treat and prevent fibrosis that often leads to disease progression and organ failure. We continue to expand and strengthen our team at OccuRx as we progress into our CKD trial and beyond.”
Dr Gareth Lewis was recently appointed as the Chief Commercial Officer and Dr Michelle Bradney as Chief Operating Officer.
Gareth boasts over 25 years of R&D experience spanning drug and clinical development, portfolio strategy, pre-launch commercialisation, global business development and licensing as well as on-market commercial responsibility.
“What excites me about this role is the potential to develop a treatment platform for a spectrum of inflammatory and fibrotic diseases. We have a shared mission and close collaboration with fellow Australian biotech company, Certa Therapeutics to improve the lives of patients suffering from difficult-to-treat and often life-threatening chronic diseases. The impact this partnership can have in addressing the global concern and unmet need of inflammation and fibrosis is enormous.” says Dr Gareth Lewis.
Michelle has over 25 years of progressive global clinical development, clinical operations and medical affairs experience working across Australia, Asia Pacific, Europe and USA.
“OccuRx has made significant advancement to translate and progress its lead compound into the clinical phase of development. It is an exciting time to join the team as we now progress into clinical trials with patients with CKD” says Dr Michelle Bradney.
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OccuRx is a biotechnology company focused on improving lives by developing innovative precision treatments for inflammatory and fibrotic diseases.
OccuRx has designed a platform of candidate drugs and validated the role of a novel receptor which mediates signalling pathways associated with inflammation and fibrosis. These targeted drugs have established proof of concept as potential treatments for multiple fibrotic diseases including serious and chronic conditions impacting the kidney, lung, eye, and skin. The morbidity and mortality impact of fibrotic diseases is substantial, ultimately causing 45% of all deaths globally.
OccuRx is seeking to combine these innovative therapeutics with biomarkers and genetic analysis to identify those patients most likely to benefit from treatment. Significant breakthroughs are urgently needed in this field, addressing a market worth more than US$15B annually.
About Brandon BioCatalyst and Brandon Capital
Brandon Capital is Australasia’s leading life science venture capital firm, with a strong global presence supported by key partnerships and team members across the US and UK. From early-stage seed investment through to expansion capital, Brandon Capital supports life science companies from proof-of-concept through to commercialisation.
Managed by Brandon Capital, Brandon BioCatalyst is a unique collaboration of over 50 leading medical research institutes, investors, and government united by a single purpose: progressing the next generation of medical therapies and technology which improve health and save lives.
Delivered by Brandon BioCatalyst, CUREator is backed by the Australian Federal Government’s Medical Research Future Fund. The MRFF’s $80 million Early Stage Translation and Commercialisation Support Grant (ESTAC) aims to assist businesses to develop projects that support medical innovation in Australia through to proof-of-concept and beyond, providing opportunities for commercialisation. CUREator is responsible for managing $40m of this fund, dedicated to supporting commercialisation of both preclinical medical innovations and early clinical development of therapeutics.
For more information about CUREator visit: https://brandonbiocatalyst.com/cureator/
Uniseed is Australia’s longest running early-stage commercialisation fund that makes investments in research emanating from five of Australia’s leading research organisations – The University of Queensland, The University of Sydney, The University of New South Wales, The University of Melbourne and the CSIRO. Investment capital is also provided by UniSuper. The fund facilitates the commercialisation of its research partners’ most promising intellectual property and secures targeted investment in resulting products and technologies.
For more information, visit: https://uniseed.com
 Henderson et al, Nature, 2020