NFMRI assists fibrosis research cross the ‘valley of death’

19th February 2018

Congratulations to Associate Professor Bernard Flynn and the collaborators on the establishment of a spin-off company to further develop fibrosis therapeutics that have potential to treat many diseases.  Associate Professor Flynn was supported by NFMRI and is another example of how NFMRI’s strategy assists biomedical research and innovations advance towards delivering community benefits.

Australian biotech company launched with AU$7m investment to develop therapies for treating obesity and liver disease

World-class Australian research used to create treatments for some of the most prevalent diseases of our time associated with unhealthy western lifestyles in new biotech start-up

Adelaide, Australia, 19 February, 2018 – Cincera Therapeutics Pty Ltd (“Cincera”) has launched with an AU$7 million venture capital commitment from the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF).

The Company has been founded to develop new therapies to target conditions relating to an unhealthy Western diet, including, serious and highly prevalent diseases associated with obesity. The company will initially focus on treatments for the emerging epidemic of a liver disease termed ‘NASH’ (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis).

Cincera secured its vital venture capital support from the AU$200 million Brandon Capital managed ‘MRCF3’ fund. The MRCF was established in 2007 and promotes the creation of early stage medical technology companies across Australia and New Zealand, with the $200 million MRCF3 fund raised in 2015.

Obesity and Western diets, high in saturated fats and processed carbohydrates, can alter the abundance (in both quantity and quality) of fats in the body. The subsequent accumulation of excessive and ‘toxic’ fats in the peripheral organs of the body can induce inflammation and tissue fibrosis (scarring), which can ultimately compromise function and lead to organ failure. Cincera aims to treat diseases like NASH by reducing the excessive abundance of specific ‘toxic’ fats in the body.

The Company is harnessing high-potential research from the Centre for Cancer Biology, an alliance between the University of South Australia and SA Pathology in Adelaide, and Monash University’s Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS) in Melbourne. The founding scientists of Cincera are Associate Professor Bernard Flynn from MIPS and Professor Stuart Pitson from the CCB who have been developing novel therapies that modulate an important target involved in a number of diseases.

Medicinal chemist and serial entrepreneur Associate Professor Flynn says, “Cincera is a great example of how partnering great teams and technologies with capital, and the right expertise, can facilitate the translation of Australian medical research.”

 “In our collaboration with Professor Pitson of CCB and Associate Professor Bing Wang of Monash Clinical Epidemiology, we have brought the science of disease biology and drug-discovery together in a unique and effective manner. Through the rapid assembly of initial research compounds, we were able to identify the most important enzymatic targets that contribute to inflammatory and fibrotic disease – and then develop drug-like lead compounds to specifically intercept these new targets.”

“MIPS is taking Australian innovation to the world through the development of novel therapies and we are delighted to have won the support from MRCF to take our innovative new therapies to the next stage,” Professor Flynn says.

Professor Pitson, a world leader in cell signalling, says, “Through collaboration with the team at Monash, we have drug candidates that are potent and broad-acting anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic agents that show strong potential to become new treatments.”

“There are many aspects of the disease that could be improved by these drugs, from treating liver or kidney dysfunction through to possible treatments for certain cancers. Making a difference is what drives researchers at the CCB and forming a company like Cincera will be important for translating our research into better treatments for patients.”

“The Cincera founders have developed a highly differentiated approach to treating inflammation and fibrosis,” says Dr Michael Bettess, Investment Manager at Brandon Capital Partners and Executive Director of Cincera. “When combined with high-quality Australian science and the extensive commercial experience of the team, Cincera became a clear early-stage investment for the MRCF.”

“It’s important to lead and maintain a healthy lifestyle as diseases like NASH are often associated with poor dietary choices and therefore largely preventable. However, for the many people who do suffer from this serious disorder a drug-based treatment is really their only option and needed urgently,” Dr Bettess says.

The MRCF investment will be used by Cincera to show efficacy in disease models and support the ongoing optimisation of compounds to select drug candidates that will be suitable for clinical trials in three to four years.

ENDS

Media contact:

Cincera and MRCF: Andrew Hamilton +61420 447 669 or ah@manacommunications.com

About Cincera Therapeutics Pty Ltd

Established as a spin-out from the Centre for Cancer Biology (CCB) (through UniSA Ventures Pty Ltd, the commercialisation company of the University of South Australia and CALHN, the Central Adelaide Local Health Network Incorporated) in Adelaide and the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS) at Monash University in Melbourne, Cincera Therapeutics Pty Ltd (Cincera) is a biotechnology company developing novel drugs aiming to transform the treatment of inflammatory and fibrotic indications associated with metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and other indications. For more information visit: www.cinceratx.com

About the MRCF

The MRCF is Australia and New Zealand’s largest life science investment fund, with AU$480 million under management. The MRCF is managed by venture capital firm Brandon Capital Partners.

The MRCF is a unique collaboration between major Australian superannuation funds, the Australian and New Zealand governments, Australian state governments and more than 50 leading medical research institutes and research hospitals. The MRCF supports the development and commercialisation of early-stage biomedical discoveries originating from member research organisations, providing both capital and expertise to guide the successful development of new therapies. www.mrcf.com.au

 

About the Centre for Cancer Biology

Based in Adelaide, South Australia, the Centre for Cancer Biology is a Medical Research Institute which carries out a world-class program of innovative research, making breakthrough discoveries in the fundamental causes of cancer, and translating these discoveries into new ways to prevent and treat this group of diseases. The CCB is an alliance between the University of South Australia and SA Pathology, which is part of the Central Adelaide Local Health Network Incorporated ‘CALHN’ in SA Health – the South Australian Government’s health portfolio, and boasts the largest concentration of cancer researchers in South Australia, currently hosting 22 full-time research group leaders and their teams. The CCB is a member of the MRCF and the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI).

About the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences

Monash University is one of Australia’s premier scientific, health and medical universities and is consistently ranked among the leading universities in the world.  The Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS) has over 240 scientists and 180 PhD students that undertake basic and translational drug discovery, drug delivery and drug development research in new, state-of-the-art laboratories on Monash’s Parkville campus.  MIPS was established in 2008 and builds upon the ground-breaking research activities of the Victorian College of Pharmacy, Monash University, developers of the Relenza flu treatment. It is Australia’s largest, most experienced and successful group of pharmaceutical scientists located near the Melbourne Biomedical Precinct in Parkville, on the edge of Melbourne’s CBD. This precinct has established itself as a leading global research and teaching powerhouse and one of the top-five biomedical precincts in the world.

About metabolic disease and fibrosis

Metabolic syndrome is a clustering of medical conditions defined by at least three of the following five conditions: 1) abdominal (central) obesity, 2) elevated blood pressure, 3) elevated fasting plasma glucose, 4) high serum triglycerides and 5) low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or ‘good cholesterol’ levels. Metabolic disease is associated with the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes (insulin resistance). Metabolic syndrome is also associated with excessive accumulation of fats (lipids) in tissues and organs. Excessive lipids can also induce inflammation which can be associated with the induction of inflammation and tissue fibrosis. Fibrosis is a chronic and progressive condition that can affect all major organ systems and is caused by the excessive accumulation of extracellular matrix components, including collagens. It is a major factor in many non-infectious diseases. Fibrosis is a major driver of morbidity and mortality in a range of tissues most notably the lungs, liver, kidneys, skin and heart. More than 40% of deaths in the developed world can be attributable to fibrotic diseases.

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