UniQuest partners with CSL to develop potential new therapy

A potential therapy developed at The University of Queensland may one day save lives by helping patients recover faster from severe trauma, extensive burns and major surgery.

UniQuest, UQ’s technology transfer company, has partnered with global biotechnology company CSL to accelerate the development of a potential treatment for the repair of blood vessels damaged by inflammation.

The technology was refined by UQ Faculty of Medicine lead researcher Associate Professor Mark Coulthard, a paediatric intensivist at Queensland Children’s Hospital and Professor Trent Woodruff and Dr Nemat Khan at UQ’s School of Biomedical Sciences, and will advance to pre-clinical studies with $500,000 from the CSL Research Acceleration Initiative.

Dr Coulthard said the technology could benefit critically ill patients with sepsis or acute respiratory distress syndrome, as well as improve patient recovery from heart attack, stroke and organ transplant.

“It may also prevent high-risk patients from developing Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome (SIRS), which affects more than half of critically ill patients and contributes to significant mortality and morbidity,” Dr Coulthard said.

“Critically ill patients with SIRS are currently resuscitated in the intensive care unit with large amounts of intravenous fluids and infusions that help to stabilise low blood pressure caused by leaky blood vessels.

“Finding a way to block the inflammatory mechanism that causes the leaky vessels is potentially a much more effective treatment.”

The technology was originally developed by UQ Emeritus Professor Andrew Boyd in collaboration with Emeritus Professor Perry Bartlett at UQ’s Queensland Brain Institute.

UniQuest filed a patent application covering the technology in 2018.

Dr Coulthard said there was currently no therapy targeting the underlying cause of systemic inflammation, which damaged the cells lining the inside surface of blood vessels.

“Leaky blood vessels may also result in complications as a result of complex surgery, organ transplantation, major trauma and extensive burns,” he said.

“Our approach has the potential to reduce deaths and ventilator bed days, shorten hospital stays and cut overall health costs.”

UniQuest CEO Dr Dean Moss said the partnership with CSL was a fantastic opportunity to help the scientific team further develop its research with the hope of one day saving lives.

“This partnership will unite CSL’s global capabilities in inflammatory disease and commercial research and development with UQ’s excellence in biomedical research,” he said.

Dr Moss said the new funding would build on UQ’s ongoing relationship with the global biotech company.

CSL’s Head of Global Research Innovation Marthe D’Ombrain said the CSL Research Acceleration Initiative was designed to enhance research commercialisation through partnerships in promising discovery programs.

“The UniQuest team is working on vitally important research in an area of unmet clinical need,” she said.

“We look forward to helping transform these concepts into potentially ground-breaking new therapies for patients.”

Image above left: Associate Professor Mark Coulthard

Image above right: Professor Trent Woodruff

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