Publish Date: 
Thursday, July 7, 2022 - 16:30

TRI welcomes new startup Infensa Bioscience 

TRI has welcomed Brisbane-based startup company Infensa Bioscience to its community of commercial incubators based at the Institute. 

Infensa has secured $23 million to fund clinical trials of a potentially lifesaving therapeutic to treat heart attacks and strokes.

The drug candidate, which was discovered by a University of Queensland (UQ) research team in venom of the K’gari (Fraser Island) funnel-web spider, is designed to prevent the tissue damage caused by heart attack and stroke.

Infensa plans to progress this drug candidate (IB001) to clinical trials after licensing the intellectual property from UniQuest, UQ’s commercialisation company.

Infensa CEO and UQ Associate Professor Mark Smythe said there are currently no drugs in clinical use that prevent the damage caused by heart attack, which is the leading cause of death worldwide.

“The heart can’t regenerate muscle cells that die during a heart attack, which is why these injuries cause permanent damage and can lead to heart failure, disability and reduced quality of life,” Dr Smythe said.

“IB001 blocks the signals that causes heart cells to die, and when given immediately to heart attack victims could reduce damage to the heart and significantly improve outcomes for people with heart disease, particularly in rural and remote regions.”

Professor Glenn King and Associate Professor Nathan Palpant from UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience discovered last year that IB001 prevents the cell death caused by loss of oxygen to the heart during a heart attack.

The drug candidate was developed in collaboration with Professor Peter Macdonald from the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute and Professor Rob Widdop at Monash University.

Dr Smythe said the $23 million funding would go towards the drug’s development and establishing the company.

“Infensa Bioscience plans to start Phase I clinical trials for treatment of severe heart attacks next year,” he said.

“This is a game-changing technology that could have world-wide impacts and is being developed and funded right here in Australia.”

TRI’s CEO Professor Scott Bell welcomed Infensa to TRI.

“It’s great to have Infensa join the TRI community, where the company can advance its therapeutics into stroke and heart attack, which are global health issues,” Professor Bell said.  

“Infensa joins a rich ecosystem of innovative medtech and biotech startups, which are making strides in research and clinical trials for cancer and other chronic diseases.”

Infensa plans to raise additional funds to support the development of drugs to treat stroke and extend the life of donor hearts used for organ transplants.

The name Infensa is drawn from the scientific name of the K’gari funnel-web spider, Hadronyche infensa, which is known by the local Butchulla people as mudjar nhiling guran (“long-toothed spider”).

This article was republished with permission from The University of Queensland. The original research was published in Circulation.