Biotechdispatch – BTF backs creation of Certa Therapeutics

The Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF) and Uniseed have announced a $25 million investment in Certa Therapeutics.

The investment is comprised of $22 million from the federal government’s Biotechnology Translation Fund (BTF), the single largest investment by the fund, and $3 million from Uniseed. Certa is initially targeting kidney disease, where scarring leads to kidney failure and ultimately dialysis or kidney transplantation.

Certa said its novel drugs block a receptor that is a key driver of this fibrosis. It said it is able to use genetic analysis to identify those patients that are most likely to benefit from the therapy.
There are currently no treatments available for kidney fibrosis. Kidney disease is a major killer and a significant cost to the Australian economy. Approximately 53 Australians die each day from kidney-related diseases.

The CEO and founder of Certa Therapeutics is Professor Darren Kelly. He says the company’s fibrosis treatment could be on the market within five years. “It’s an incredibly exciting time to be working in medical science. The amount of stored genetic material at our fingertips is immense. Access to this genetic data is transforming how we treat diseases. Rather than creating drugs that work for majority of the population, we can now tailor our treatment based on an understanding of genetic make-up. The implications of this for fighting disease are profound.”

MRCF and Uniseed acquired clinical development candidates from Shire to support the creation of Certa. In exchange, Shire has an 18 percent equity stake in the company and is eligible to receive royalties on future global product sales.

The $500 million Biomedical Translation Fund was created by the federal government in 2016. Brandon Capital has been appointed to manage the largest pool of funds, worth $230 million. “The scale of this investment has been made possible by the Biotechnology Translation Fund,” said Dr Chris Nave, CEO of the MRCF and managing director of Brandon Capital. “In many ways this investment represents the raison detre of the BTF, taking great Australian medical science and providing it with access to sufficient capital to enable its continued, late stage, clinical development in Australia. The BTF was designed to be transformative for our local industry, providing the ability for research discoveries to be developed from concept to commercialisation right here in Australia, creating jobs and growing a sustainable industry along the way.”

“Certa’s technology is at the forefront of efforts to treat kidney disease and provides another great example of the world leading biotechnology research being conducted in Australia,” said Dr John Kurek, investment manager at Uniseed.