Biotech start-up Spinifex gets $6.3m in funding

By Oliver Milman
Monday, 12 September 2011

 Spinifex, a biotech start-up, has received a $6.3 million funding boost to help it bring its nerve pain therapy to market.

 The investment, from GBS Venture Partners and Brandon Capital Partners, is the latest funding round that Spinifex has managed to attract, bringing its total backing to a massive $22.3 million since it was founded in 2005.

 The venture was launched by UniQuest, the research commercialisation arm of the University of Queensland.

 UniQuest is also behind another biotech start-up, Vaxxas, which recently received $15 million in funding for its needle-free vaccine delivery system.

 Spinifex’s main technology is based on the work of Professor Maree Smith, who has devised a compound that can help treat nerve and inflammatory pain, potentially helping patients who have experienced shingles or cancer chemotherapy.

 Professor Smith is also involved in developing pain therapies for another UQ start-up, QRxPharma. Since 2000, UniQuest has helped start-ups raise more than $400 million to commercialise their technologies.

 David Henderson, UniQuest’s managing director, says that the funding shows that investors are keen to back research in Australian universities.

 “Modern lifestyles and aging populations in the developed world are driving up demand for pain drugs, generating a health sector headache for governments everywhere and a multi-billion dollar market,” he says.

 “University research-based ventures like Spinifex provide vehicles for investors wanting to achieve both financial and community benefit returns.”

 “We are particularly excited about the developments with Spinifex, having worked with the research team since the small molecule discovery came to light in our inaugural Trailblazer innovative ideas competition in 2003.”

“Every stage of the clinical trials process takes the therapy closer to being market-ready, and ultimately to the patients who need it.”

 Further trials of the product involving nerve injury and cancer chemotherapy patients are expected to start by the end of the year.

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