$16M cash injection to progress first-in-class therapy for inflammation and fibrosis – Start Up Daily

Melbourne, Australia, 09 September 2022 written by Simon Thomsen:

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[1].

This investment in OccuRx was jointly led by Brandon BioCatalyst and Uniseed and also includes funding from University of Melbourne and 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.

[1] Henderson et al, Nature, 2020