A potentially life-saving treatment containing venom from one of the world’s deadliest spiders is moving closer to human trials, thanks to a $23 million investment in a Brisbane start-up.
The drug candidate, which was developed by a research team from the University of Queensland (UQ), uses a molecule found in the venom of the K’gari funnel spider (Fraser Island) and has the potential to prevent damage by heart attacks and strokes. . It will now be able to proceed to clinical trials after marketing company UQ UniQuest cleared the drug candidate, IB001, to start-up Infensa Bioscience.
UQ senior researcher Associate Professor Mark Smythe, who is also CEO of Infensa, said there are currently no drugs in clinical use that prevent damage from heart attack, which is the leading cause. deaths worldwide.
“The heart cannot regenerate muscle cells that die in a heart attack, so these injuries cause permanent damage and can lead to heart failure, disability and reduced quality of life,” Smythe said.
UQ Professor Glenn King and Associate Professor Nathan Palpant discovered last year that IB001 prevents cell death caused by loss of oxygen to the heart and brain during heart attacks and strokes, their results being published in the journal Traffic. The drug candidate was developed in collaboration with Professor Peter Macdonald of the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute and Professor Rob Widdop of Monash University.
“IB001 blocks signals that cause heart cell death, and when given immediately to heart attack victims, it could reduce damage to the heart and significantly improve outcomes for people with heart disease, especially in rural and remote areas,” Smythe said.
Smythe said the $23 million in funding would go towards developing the drug and establishing the company, with the goal of starting Phase I clinical trials as a treatment for heart attacks next year. The company also plans to raise additional funds to support the development of drugs to treat strokes and extend the life of donor hearts used for organ transplants.
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