Publish Date: 
Tuesday, December 10, 2019 - 09:15

A new spin-out from The University of Queensland (UQ) will develop a novel therapy for the growing problem of obesity-related liver disease with the support of an initial investment from IP Group.

Jetra Therapeutics Pty Ltd is commercialising a potential new treatment for obesity-related liver disease with a targeted biologic designed to reduce stress in liver cells.

The treatment was developed by TRI-based Mater Research Institute (MRI-UQ) researchers led by inflammation expert, Professor Mike McGukin and clinical endocrinologist, Professor John Prins in collaboration with UQ immuno-pathologist, Dr Sumaira Hasnain. (Both Professor MCGukin and Professor Prins are now based at the University of Melbourne.)

Dr Hasnain said obesity was a growing and costly problem that often led to chronic disease and underpinned liver diseases such as Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) and Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

“NAFLD is typically characterised by excessive fat accumulation in the cells of the liver and can act as a precursor to more serious inflammatory diseases, such as NASH or the end-stage liver disease, cirrhosis,” she said.

“NASH is predicted to overtake hepatitis C viral infection as the leading cause of liver transplantation in advanced economies, yet there are currently no approved therapies specifically for this disease.”

Dr Hasnain said MRI-UQ researchers discovered in pre-clinical tests that targeting the liver with an engineered cell signalling peptide called IL-22 led to a decrease of fat accumulation.

“We now want to further optimise and assess the safety of the therapy, and subsequently undertake clinical trials,” she said.

“Today we start an exciting journey of translation from the bench to the bedside that will be made possible thanks to IP Group’s initial investment.”

 This article is based on a media release distributed by UQ technology transfer company, UniQuest.