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Macquarie Uni Backs Biotech Spin-Off in $2 Million Seed Raid

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A biotech startup using gene therapy to tackle neurodegenerative diseases such as motor neuron disease (MND), epilepsy and dementia has emerged from Macquarie University with $2 million in Seed funding to launch.

Celosia Therapeutics is Australia’s first gene therapy company and the result of twenty years of research at the university. It is currently part of the Macquarie Incubator Program and has exclusive access to a portfolio of patents for advanced gene therapies developed by Macquarie’s medical researchers.

Dr. Brenton Hamdorf, CEO of Celosia, said the company will begin developing a gene therapy to treat MND after showing promise in lab tests.

“We aim to start clinical trials of this treatment within five years, but this is just the first of the exciting discoveries at our disposal, waiting to be developed for patient use,” he said.

“We will seek further funding in 2023 to develop our gene therapy treatments with tremendous potential to provide life-changing benefits for motor neurons and other neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and Dravet syndrome, a particularly severe form of drug-resistant epilepsy in children who can cause hundreds of attacks per day.”

Dr. Hamdorf paid tribute to 20 years of work by Macquarie University medical researchers Professor Lars Ittner and Professor Roger Chung, adding that preclinical trials (before human testing) were extremely promising.

“Our collaboration with Macquarie University is essential in taking these treatments from the lab to the bedside,” he said.

“It goes beyond that of an investor and provides us with vital access to critical research capabilities, infrastructure, clinical expertise and patients awaiting these new treatment options.”

Macquarie Vice-Chancellor Professor S. Bruce Dowton, said Celosia demonstrates the unique role universities can play in actively facilitating the translation of groundbreaking academic research into helping people

“Macquarie is leading by example in supporting the commercialization of universities by proactively supporting innovative opportunities like these,” he said.

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

Celosia Therapeutics is a member of the Macquarie University Incubator community, which currently supports more than 40 companies that raised more than $44 million in outside funding last year and created nearly 200 jobs.

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