Associate Professor Mark Smythe
Associate Professor Mark Smythe

20 September 2013

University of Queensland (UQ) spin-out company Protagonist Therapeutics has raised an additional $4 million of venture capital funding, taking its total raised from Series B private financing to $18 million.

Pharmstandard International S.A., a holding company of the major pharmaceutical company in Russia, OJSC Pharmstandard (LSE: PHST), joined the round as a new investor.

Series B financing is the second significant round of financing a business receives, usually after having successfully completed various milestones following the Series A investment round.

Protagonist Therapeutics was spun out of UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience in 2001 and is a biotechnology company focused on developing oral drugs for diseases whose current treatments must be injected.

Associate Professor Mark Smythe, founder and Vice President of Technology & Alliances at Protagonist Therapeutics, said oral treatments could provide a better choice for consumers.

“Oral treatments tend to be safer, more effective, more convenient and more affordable for patients and the healthcare system in comparison to injectable treatments,” Dr Smythe said.

“This $4 million investment, in addition to earlier investments from both Australian and international companies, demonstrates that Queensland research has the potential to make a global impact through developing improved drugs for people whose treatment needs are not currently being met.”

Pharmstandard International manufactures more than 250 pharmaceutical products and launched 10 new drugs last year alone.

“Protagonist’s orally stable peptides represent a game-changing approach that especially enables the development of orally administered NCEs (new chemical entities) for inflammatory bowel diseases and other gastro-intestinal disorders,” said Dr Alexander Shuster, President of Inbio Ventures, a management company representing Pharmstandard International.

“We were impressed by the company’s technology, partnerships, development achievements to date and the management team.”

Protagonist Therapeutics, whose President and Chief Executive Officer is Dr Dinesh V. Patel, is headquartered in the USA with discovery operations in Menlo Park, California, USA and at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

“The addition of Pharmstandard to our investor base reflects the growing international interest in the field of orally active peptides, as well as recognition by investors of the significant advantages offered by our technology over other approaches,” Dr Patel said.

“This additional international investment enables us to further focus efforts on building a strong pipeline of developmental candidates for our internal pipeline and selective asset-based partnering.”

The Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) is a research institute of The University of Queensland that aims to improve quality of life by advancing personalised medicine, drug discovery and biotechnology.

ENDS

Media contact: Bronwyn Adams, IMB Communications Officer – 0418 575 247, 07 3346 2134 or b.adams@imb.uq.edu.au

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