6 June 2011
The University of Melbourne spin-out Otifex Therapeutics has raised $1.1m from the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund and Uniseed to develop a nasal spray for the most common cause of childhood hearing problems.
University of Melbourne spin-out Otifex Therapeutics announced the company has secured $1.1m investment funding to advance the development of a nasal spray for Otitis Media with Effusion (OME), or fluid in the middle ear. There are no effective medicines available to treat OME, which is often managed with surgical implantation of tympanostomy tubes (‘grommets’). Otifex plans to develop an easy to use, safe and effective nasal spray to assist in the clearance of fluid from the middle ear, which is the cause of OME associated hearing loss. The company plans to test the nasal spray in collaboration with The Australian Paediatric Research Unit of the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.
Otifex also announced today the appointment of Dr Christopher Wraight as Chief Operating Officer. Dr Wraight was previously a technology founder and Research Director of the ASX-listed, clinical stage biopharmaceutical R&D company, Antisense Therapeutics Ltd. He has a PhD in Biochemistry and an MBA in Technology Management, and has overseen several successful early stage drug development programmes from the laboratory research stage into clinical proof of concept. In 2008 he was awarded an Australian Life Sciences Industry ‘Advancing BioBusiness Award’ from Merck Sharp & Dohme (Aust) & Advance.org.
“Otifex Therapeutics’ strategy is to reformulate a well established and safe oral tablet drug, which has a long history of use in 130 million adults, into a safe and convenient nasal spray for children,” said Dr Wraight. “We hope to provide the first, effective, non-surgical treatment option for the most common cause of acquired hearing loss in children.”
The $1.1m investment funding will be used in reformulation for nasal delivery, pharmacology and safety experiments, manufacture, and a Phase I clinical trial to confirm the nasal formulation’s safety. Otifex then plans to seek additional investment to advance to Phase II clinical efficacy trials in children with OME, representing a key value inflection point in the company’s commercialisation strategy.
The technology was developed by Associate Professor Colin Anderson from the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences at The University of Melbourne, and Dr Burkhard Franz, a Melbourne-based ENT physician and Honorary Research Fellow from the same Department, and licensed to Otifex with the assistance of UoM Commercial Ltd, the commercialisation company of The University of Melbourne.