US company invests in biotech startup from James Cook University
03 Sep 2018
Paragen Bio, a biotech startup focused on treating autoimmune diseases, has attracted
a A$6 million investment from US-based AbbVie Ventures, Brandon Capital’s
Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF) and OneVentures.
The biotech startup, which is a spin off from James Cook University’s
Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, is developing
treatments targeting autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis,
inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and asthma, using beneficial proteins
found in parasitic hookworms.
‘Autoimmune diseases are reaching epidemic proportions in developed
countries and there is an urgent need for new therapeutic approaches,’ says
Professor Alex Loukas, Paragen Head of Research, in a company
The A$6 million investment will go towards developing the next generation
of inflammation-reducing medicines sourced from hookworms.
‘The syndicate of investors is a testament to the high-calibre research
coming from Australia and James Cook University, in particular,’ adds
Margarita Chavez, Paragen Director and AbbVie Ventures Managing Director.
This is the first biotech startup from James Cook University (JCU) and is
one of just a handful of biotech companies in Northern Queensland.
Paragen’s technology was developed at JCU with support from the Australian
Research Council, Queensland Government, and National Health and Medical
Research Council (NHMRC).
Founded in 2009 in the US,
AbbVie Ventures, the venture arm of AbbVie Inc, focuses on investing in early-stage
biotechs and pharmaceuticals across immunology, oncology, and neuroscience.
Brandon Capital’s MRCF, established in 2007, provides dedicated funding to
help commercialise early-stage medical research discoveries originating
from its member institutes in Australia and New Zealand.
OneVentures Health Fund III has been supported by The Australian
Biomedical Translation Fund
(BTF), which was established to invest in biomedical innovations and fast
track them to market. Paragen will receive $367,000 through the BTF.
Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine
was founded in 2008 with a A$42.12 million injection from the Queensland
Government, with funding matched by the Australian Government.