Biotech in the land down under – Australia.

Image of Sydney Opera House for article on Australian biotech.

Australia has ranked in the top five globally for biotechnology three years running, outperforming nations such as the United Kingdom and Germany, according to Scientific American Worldview. The medical-biotechnology sector has benefited from a multibillion-dollar windfall of government funding, as well as from substantial tax breaks for companies investing in research and development. (Nature, May 9, 2018).

There were many great choices, yet I have narrowed down my top picks to the outstanding companies below:

Kazia Therapeutics, Sydney, are working on drug candidates designed to treat diseases such as brain cancer, renal cancer, and liver cancers which are poorly served by current therapies.   Using PAXALISIB (Genentech), Kazia is working on newly-diagnosed glioblastoma and advanced solid tumors.

Actinogen MedicalSydney, is an ASX-listed, biotechnology company developing an innovative treatment for cognitive impairment associated with neurological diseases amenable to modifications of raised cortisol levels inside brain cells. ‘Cognition’ relates to how a person understands and acts in the world around them. Cognitive functions include memory, reasoning, awareness and decision-making, and to a large extent, influence our personality.  Their lead drug candidate, Xanamem®has been specifically designed to block the production of cortisol – the stress hormone – in the brain. 

Mesoblast, Melbourne, is using its proprietary mesenchymal lineage cell technology platform to develop and commercialize innovative allogeneic cellular medicines to treat complex inflammatory diseases resistant to conventional standard of care.  They currently have three Phase 3 product candidates.  Graft vs. host disease in children and ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome) due to COVID-19.  Advanced chronic heart failure and chronic low back pain due to degenerative disc disease.

Imugene, Sydney, is a clinical stage immuno-oncology company developing a range of new treatments that seek to activate the immune system of cancer patients to identify and eradicate tumors.  Their product pipeline includes an Oncolytic Virus and B-Cell Immunotherapies aimed at treating a variety of cancers in combination with standard of care drugs and immunotherapies. We are supported by a leading team of international cancer experts with extensive experience in developing new cancer therapies.

Certa Therapeutics, Melbourne, is a clinical stage biotechnology company developing innovative therapies for the treatment of fibrotic diseases.  Certa’s novel drugs block a receptor that is a key driver of fibrosis (scarring), a progressive condition which can lead to organ failure and ultimately in some diseases, the need for organ transplantation. Certa Therapeutics is focused on the emerging field of medical science which uses genetic information to identify which patients will best respond to a specific treatment, commonly referred to as precision medicine.