A spin-off company founded by three University of Sydney and Sydney Local Health District academics has received $2.2 million in backing from Australian biotech incubator Proto Axiom to help bring their drug delivery technology to the clinic.
The technology leverages the safe delivery of nanoparticles to treat autoimmune diseases and allergies. The first application focuses on oral insulin to improve the lives of people with Type 1 diabetes, a lifelong autoimmune disease which usually starts in young children and requires multiple daily injections of insulin. In 2021, it was estimated that 8.4 million people worldwide live with the condition.
Professor Victoria Cogger, Professor David Le Couteur AO and Dr Nicholas Hunt founded spin-off company Endo Axiom after 20 years of research.
However, it was a 2018 NHMRC Project Grant that allowed for a key development: the creation of a polymer that was responsive to its environment, allowing for the release of insulin at the right time and in the right place in the liver.
Our oral insulin is made by attaching insulin to a nanoparticle and then coating that formulation in a protective layer that helps the insulin be delivered safely into the bloodstream.
"We hope insulin is just the first of the usually injectable, life-saving medications we can deliver this way. Our work to date shows the nanoparticles we use are safe and excreted very quickly from the body. We are already testing other medications and our major goal is using the delivery system to not just treat, but to prevent disease development,” Professor Cogger, Director of the ANZAC Research Institute, said.
Pre-clinical results of the oral insulin program are currently undergoing peer review (see preview). The program is currently supported by a MRFF targeted translational research accelerator grant and is in accredited manufacturing with CSIRO prior to entering clinical trials in 2024.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Emma Johnston said this work exemplifies the University of Sydney’s longstanding excellence in health and medical research and commitment to leveraging research to improve lives.
"I’m thrilled to see this research progressing to commercialisation. The potential to vastly improve the daily lives of those with Type 1 diabetes, particularly children, is an exciting development, and underscores the importance of what we as universities, and individual scientists, do for the communities we serve.”
Anthony Liveris, Proto Axiom’s Chief Executive, said: “We are privileged to have the opportunity to work with Endo Axiom. The team has produced world-leading research. As well as financially investing in the company, Proto will give the team access to industry knowledge and commercialisation expertise from both Australia and overseas.”
This is the first in a series of investments that Proto Axiom expects to announce in coming months.”