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Sydney researchers win massive CUREator grant

21 July 2022
Funding for the fight against cardiovascular diseases

Sydney researchers win $500k grant to develop molecule antagonists to support the treatment of cardiovascular diseases.

Australia’s national biotech incubator, CUREator, launched round one of its three-year incubator, providing $17.4 million to projects aiming to tackle global health concerns including diabetes, cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer.

CUREator’s round one funding awards granted $8.5m to 17 pre-clinical biomedical technologies to guide promising research through proof-of-concept stages towards being investment-ready.

Sydney researchers leading the way

Prokardia, a spin-out company from the University of Sydney, led by Professor Michael Kassiou from the Faculty of Science and Professor Gemma Figtree from the Faculty of Medicine and Health, has won a combined $1 million grant to develop molecule antagonists and accelerate the drug development time to market to support the treatment of cardio-vascular diseases, or 'CVDs'.

CVDs are the leading cause of death globally, affecting more than four million Australians and accounting for one in four deaths in the country.

A major challenge regarding CVD treatment is arterial hypertension (PAH) and protecting against both the lung vasculature involvement as well as the right heart response. It is critical to accelerate the pathway for drug entry into clinical translation due to the urgent unmet need, considering the high and rapid mortality and the young age of many patients.
Professor Kassiou

Research in detail

Prokardia is developing small molecule P2X7 antagonists which will target upstream inflammation, which have the strategic advantage over downstream anti-inflammatory approaches as they target only inflammation mediated by extracellular ATP. The inflammation is released by activated platelets, leukocytes, and damaged heart cells, instead of infection or sepsis.

The CUREator grant will enable an optimised class of P2X7 antagonists – PKT200, with improved efficacy, pharmacological and safety profile will be selected for next phase of clinical translocation to further validate its drugability. As a result, an accelerated regulatory pathway is anticipated to shorten the drug development time to market.

The grant will be gifted in 2 parts. Firstly, $500,000 has been awarded for the 2-year project, and an additional $500,000 would be available subject to completion of the project milestones.

Verity Leatherdale

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