Biotech startup OccuRx has raised $16 million to fund clinical phase studies for its oral therapy to treat chronic kidney disease (CKD), a leading cause of death.
The round was jointly led by Brandon BioCatalyst and Uniseed and also includes a $1.5 million grant from biomedical incubator CUREator.
The funding will be used for a CKD clinical program for the lead compound OCX-063, after successful outcomes in a Phase I clinical trial.
Chronic kidney disease affects millions globally, often as a result of other long-term illnesses, such as diabetes or cardiovascular conditions, leading to fibrosis and kidney failure. There are no current treatments for kidney fibrosis.
OccuRx executive chair Professor Darren Kelly said it an exciting time for the startup’s clinical development program for patients with CKD.
“Our aim is to develop an oral therapy to treat and prevent fibrosis that often leads to disease progression and organ failure,” he said.
“We continue to expand and strengthen our team at OccuRx as we progress into our CKD trial and beyond.”
To do that, the biotech has appointed Dr Gareth Lewis as Chief Commercial Officer and Dr Michelle Bradney as Chief Operating Officer.
Dr Lewis said he was excited by the potential to develop a treatment platform for a spectrum of inflammatory and fibrotic diseases.
“We have a shared mission and close collaboration with fellow Australian biotech company, Certa Therapeutics to improve the lives of patients suffering from difficult-to-treat and often life-threatening chronic diseases,” he said.
“The impact this partnership can have in addressing the global concern and unmet need of inflammation and fibrosis is enormous.”
Dr Bradney signs on with more than 25 years of clinical development and medical experience in Australia and internationally.
“OccuRx has made significant advancement to translate and progress its lead compound into the clinical phase of development,” she said.
It is an exciting time to join the team as we now progress into clinical trials with patients with CKD.”