Macquarie University (Australia) New gene therapy company targets MND, epilepsy and dementia

Macquarie University has launched a new company dedicated to delivering gene therapies for devastating neurodegenerative conditions such as motor neurone disease (MND) to patients within the next decade.

Launched with more than $2 million in seed funding from Macquarie University, Celosia Therapeutics has exclusive access to a portfolio of patents for advanced gene therapies developed by Macquarie’s medical researchers.

Celosia Therapeutics Chief Executive Officer Dr Brenton Hamdorf says the company will begin by developing a gene therapy to treat MND that has shown great promise in laboratory testing.

“We aim to start clinical trials of this treatment within five years, but this is only the first of the exciting discoveries that we have at our disposal, just waiting to be developed for use by patients,” Dr Hamdorf says.

“We will seek further funding in 2023 to develop our gene therapy treatments with enormous potential to provide life-changing benefits for motor neurone and other neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s Disease and Dravet Syndrome, a particularly severe form of drug-resistant childhood epilepsy that can cause hundreds of seizures a day.

“Our partnership with Macquarie University is key to bringing these treatments from the lab to the bedside. It extends beyond that of an investor, providing us with vital access to critical research capabilities, infrastructure, clinical expertise, and patients who are waiting for these new treatment options.”

The launch of Celosia Therapeutics represents the latest achievement in 20 years of research into neurodegenerative diseases by Macquarie University medical researchers, Professor Lars Ittner and Professor Roger Chung, both of whom are leaders in their fields.

Macquarie Vice-Chancellor, Professor S. Bruce Dowton, says this new endeavour showcases the unique role universities can play in actively facilitating the translation of ground-breaking academic research to the benefit of patients around the world.

“Macquarie is leading by example in its support of university commercialisation by proactively backing innovative opportunities such as this,” Professor Dowton says.

“We are proud to support Celosia Therapeutics, and we look forward to seeing what it will achieve in the future.”

Celosia Therapeutics is a member of the Macquarie University Incubator community, which currently support more than 40 companies ranging from idea stage to scaling organisations.

The Macquarie Incubator is designed to drive the development of sustainable, scalable and investable companies from within – our researchers, students, alumni – and from external sources by welcoming in the wider community.

Last year, Macquarie Incubator companies attracted more than $44m in external funding and created nearly 200 jobs.

Macquarie University Incubator’s Director of Incubation and Entrepreneurship, Melissa Ryan, says there is an emerging movement in Australia towards an innovation economy.

“The innovation economy values ideas as the new resource boom,” Ms Ryan says.

“We believe the key to unlocking innovation is via entrepreneurial pathways, so we’re thrilled to support Celosia Therapeutics’ transformation into a thriving commercial success.”

Celosia Therapeutics CEO Dr Brenton Hamdorf will be speaking at AusBioInvest on 27 October in Perth, announcing the company’s launch and gene therapy ambitions.