Ovarian cancer therapy closer following international venture capital investment

Hudson Institute has attracted a substantial international venture capital investment, to support translation of a promising new ovarian cancer therapy into clinical development.

Professor Paul Hertzog leading the partnership between epsila bio and Hudson Institute
Professor Paul Hertzog

A research partnership between Hudson Institute and international venture capital group, Morningside Ventures, has achieved a key milestone that has led to a substantial investment commitment in a start-up company (Epsila Bio Inc) funded to develop a novel candidate for the treatment of ovarian cancer.

Hudson Institute has been working closely with Morningside Ventures since 2019 in a collaboration combining the research expertise of Professor Paul Hertzog’s lab, and the commercial and product development resources of Morningside, with a focus on ovarian cancer.

Ovarian   cancer   is   the   eighth   most   common   cancer   overall among women and is the most common cause of death from a gynaecological cancer. It is estimated 1500 women will be diagnosed and 1000 will die from ovarian cancer in Australia in 2020. Ovarian cancer has the lowest female cancer survival rate with only 45 per cent of women diagnosed living for five years. Current standard treatment options include surgery with chemotherapy. Approximately three quarters of patients will relapse, often with chemotherapy-resistant disease which limits treatment options further. There is an urgent and unmet need for therapeutic options aimed at preventing the spread of metastatic disease, to improve the management and long-term survival of cancer patients.

“We are pleased to announce this recent milestone achievement has triggered further substantial investment in the research program and the establishment of a spin-off company, Epsila Bio Inc, to manage the development activities,” Hudson Institute Chief Commercialisation Officer, Rob Merriel said.

Rob Merriel, Hudson Institute Chief Commercialisation Officer. leading the partnership between epsila bio and Hudson Institute
Mr Rob Merriel

The move represents not only a substantial investment in Hudson Institute-led research but will strengthen international biotech sector connections and could lead to a significant boost to the Victorian economy and future jobs.

In the near term, Epsila Bio Inc will work closely with Prof Hertzog and his team by scaling-up production of the therapeutic candidate and commencing IND-enabling activities.

The therapeutic is based on findings by Prof Hertzog’s team that the presence of a cytokine, interferon epsilon, in the female reproductive tract, activates the body’s immune response to infections and has a similar immune response to cancer.

Hudson Institute is recognised worldwide for inflammation, infection and immunity research led by Prof Hertzog.

CEO of Epsila Bio Inc, Ronnie Farquhar (D Phil) said, “Epsila Bio will leverage Morningside’s expertise and financial wherewithal to translate Prof Hertzog’s outstanding research into a novel cancer therapeutic with meaningful patient benefit and large commercial market opportunity. The project will greatly be enabled by our strong relationships with Hudson Institute researchers.”

Hudson Institute is a Melbourne-based leading Australian medical research institute recognised internationally for discovery science and translational research into inflammation, cancer, reproductive health and pregnancy and infant and child health.

Morningside Ventures founded in 1986 by the Chan family, Morningside is a technology and life science venture investment firm. With offices in Boston, Shanghai and London, the firm invests globally. Its portfolio emphasises spin-outs from research institutions. In 2014, the founders of Morningside made a gift to Harvard University which renamed its public health school the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. To learn more, visit Morningside website.

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