Updated on 11 March 2013
Talking about the funding, Dr Thompson said, "As a member of the MRCF, the i3 Institute was eligible to present Helmedix as an investment opportunity for the MRCF. After a process of review and due diligence by the MRCF's manager, Brandon Capital Partners, the investment proceeded. The review process is a collaborative one, and the Helmedix team was able to tap into the collective knowledge of an investment committee made up of representatives from all 32 member medical research institutes from around Australia and to present to the MRCF Board. In addition, Brandon Capital Partners provided feedback as to what would make the Company an attractive investment opportunity for the MRCF."
As well as accessing the MRCF collaboration at the start of the investment, Helmedix will also have the opportunity to re-present to the MRCF investment committee as the technology is further developed and access the other member institutes for input and potential research collaborations. Dr Thompson, while praising the MRCF, said, "The fund offers a unique structure where all member institutes will benefit from successful investments and are motivated to help each investment succeed. In addition, there is a strong collaborative attitude amongst the MRCF members which benefits each of them. Helmedix is a great example of the type of early stage opportunity that the MRCF is set up to support."
While the MRCF investment will help to progress lead optimization and pre-clinical development of the immune modulating peptides over the next two years, Helmedix will subsequently seek further investment or industry partnerships to move the helminth-derived peptides through clinical development as a treatment for autoimmune and other inflammatory diseases. Dr Thompson said, "The MRCF does not have a fixed payback time-frame and has the flexibility and risk-tolerance profile to enable investment in relatively early-stage opportunities." The MRCF has some of Australia's leading superannuation (pension) funds as institutional investors as well as the Australian Government under its IIF scheme with returns expectations no different from any other venture fund. "What these superannuation funds gain through the MRCF is unique access to cutting edge technologies from Australia's leading medical research institutes at the stage of seed investment," added Dr Thompson.
Many of the planned activities of Helmedix will be undertaken in the labs of Dr Sheila Donnelly and her team at the i3 institute with some additional recruitment of support staff. The company is also planning to take advantage of CROs where beneficial. Dr Thompson mentioned, "The i3 institute at UTS brings together an internationally competitive team focused on addressing key challenges in the understanding and control of infectious diseases in humans and animals. The institute's innovative science uses a systems biology approach to develop a greater insight into basic biology and its application to the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of infectious diseases."
Dr Thompson hopes to see the first clinical trials to happen within a few years. For 2013, the focus is on lead optimization and pre-clinical development of the immune modulating peptides, for which some of the work would be undertaken at the i3 institute and some outsourced to CROs. Dr Thompson concludes by saying that the program commenced at the time of investment and the program at this early stage is progressing as planned.