Monash University: Monash researcher founding scientist of new biotech company launched with AUD$10m investment

A researcher from the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS) is a co-founder of Australian biotech company, Ankere Therapeutics (‘Ankere’), which has launched with AU$10 million seed investment.

Image: Associate Professor Bernard Flynn
Ankere is dedicated to the development of new therapies that target inflammatory diseases, particularly those affecting the lung. It was founded by MIPS Medicinal Chemist, Associate Professor Bernard Flynn, and Professor Stuart Pitson from the University of South Australia’s Centre for Cancer Biology.

The funding round was jointly led by IP Group and Brandon Capital, through Brandon BioCatalyst, and will support the company through its preclinical development and into clinical trials.

Ankere aims to develop new therapies for inflammatory lung disease, based on its proprietary small molecule chemistry. The company is harnessing research from a decades-long collaboration between Associate Professor Flynn and Professor Pitson, and has operations in both Melbourne and Adelaide.

Ankere’s CEO and Research Director, Associate Professor Flynn, says: “Inflammatory lung diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary hypertension and pulmonary fibrosis can be very debilitating and are lead causes of death worldwide”

“We are excited to be developing disease modifying therapies that have the potential to have a real global impact.”

Monash University Senior Vice-President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Enterprise and Engagement, Professor Doron Ben-Meir said: “Ankere is a great example of the tangible impact university research can have on some of the world’s most significant health issues. The breadth of expertise assembled around Ankere creates a strong launchpad to advance development of new therapies for inflammatory diseases.”

Ankere is striving to develop transformative therapies based on excellent science that will enable people to live long and healthy lives.

Professor Pitson, a world leader in inflammatory cell signalling and Chief Scientific Officer at Ankere says: “Ankere is an example of how a strong partnership between researchers with a shared area of focus has the potential to address the most pressing health concerns.”

“The combination of research, expertise and capital at Ankere, will support the project to advance its highly promising discovery which has the potential to lead to new therapies targeting inflammation.”

Dr Melissa McBurnie, Partner at Brandon Capital and Ankere Director, says: “We’re excited to co-lead on this investment with IP Group, we’re aligned with a strong focus on the life sciences and backing the best biomedical innovations.”

“Collaboration is at the heart of the Brandon BioCatalyst model, we know that new therapies require different expert collaborators along the development path from the lab all the way through to patients in the clinic.”

Dr Siro Perez, Head of Life Sciences at IP Group Australia and Ankere Director, says: “Ankere demonstrates what is possible when researchers from leading research centres come together.”

“We are delighted to be working with the Ankere team and Brandon Capital to support this breakthrough research that has the potential to improve the lives of millions of people with chronic inflammatory conditions around the world. We are looking forward to sharing Ankere’s progress as they advance towards the clinic.”

Ankere is an Arrernte (central Australian Indigenous) word meaning spinifex wax which is used in traditional medicines. The use of the name is acknowledgement of Ankere’s Australian heritage and passion for better health outcomes. Associate Professor Flynn received permission to use this word from the Arrernte culture centre, Akeyulerre, in Alice Springs.