OneVentures invests in regional Queensland company developing treatments for autoimmune diseases
OneVentures Healthcare Fund III invests in Cairns-based Paragen Bio
Sydney, AU, 14 August 2018 – OneVentures, a venture capital firm focused on investment in high growth, transformative technology and healthcare companies, is participating in the first fundraising round for Paragen Bio through its $170M Healthcare Fund III (the Fund). Paragen Bio is a Cairns-based immunotherapy company that has raised $6m towards developing safe treatments for autoimmune diseases.
The OneVentures investment is part of a Series A fundraising round led by Brandon Capital and Abbvie Ventures, to fund R&D activities that will bring the company closer to conducting human clinical trials.
The OneVentures Fund supports the commercialisation of Australian biomedical innovation and was established as part of the Federal Government’s Biomedical Translation Fund initiative. The Fund was awarded $85m from the Federal Government which was matched by OneVentures’ investors.
Paragen Bio’s technology is based on over eight years of research into parasitic hookworms, led by founder and CEO Professor Alex Loukas at James Cook University’s (JCU) Australian Institute of Tropical Health Management (AITHM).
The company is developing therapeutics to treat autoimmune diseases based on proteins isolated from the saliva of hookworms. Autoimmune diseases affect 5% of the Australian population and are one of the most important national health issues. In the U.S. alone, approximately 50 million people suffer from autoimmune disease, with the government spending over US$100b a year to provide treatment options. These diseases cause the immune system to attack healthy tissues and organs, leading to the deterioration and in some cases to the complete destruction of tissue.
Hookworms are parasites that frequently infect humans in tropical regions with poor sanitation. Because of a modern lifestyle and access to anti-worm therapies, the prevalence of hookworm infections in humans is slowly decreasing. This lack of infection is linked to a rise in the incidence of autoimmune diseases globally. They include chronic inflammatory diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which commonly manifests as Chron’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis (UC), as well as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and certain allergies.
Anne-Marie Birkill, Managing Partner at OneVentures said, “OneVentures is delighted to be investing alongside the Australian Government, Brandon Capital and Abbvie Ventures to progress the world-class science undertaken by Alex and the team at JCU. Paragen Bio is a terrific example of how innovations developed in regional Australia can address significant, global market needs.”
The investment will fund R&D activities including at Alex Loukas’ laboratory at JCU. Since the launch of its first Fund in 2010, OneVentures has invested in several Queensland based companies, with over 50% of healthcare funding invested in companies based in Queensland, including Vaxxas, Find-me technologies and BiVACOR.
About OneVentures Healthcare Fund III
OneVentures is one of Australia’s leading venture capital firms, with over $320M in funds under management. But we do more than invest. We take companies to that all important next stage, by actively shaping their future. We apply our years of international experience, operational and executional expertise to accelerate the growth of our portfolio companies.
A global growth focus drives our investment selection with our current portfolio including companies with truly innovative products tackling multi-billion-dollar problems, from needle-free vaccinations to virtual communications to adaptive e-learning. Game changers, that deliver lasting gains.
In December 2016 OneVentures launched its $170M Healthcare Fund III, a licensee of the Australian Government Biomedical Translation Fund (BTF*). This Fund invests in therapeutics, devices and diagnostics at or near clinical development with a clear commercial, regulatory and reimbursement pathway; and well-defined value inflection and exit points on deal entry.
The Fund will invest $10 to $20 million per company in Australian domiciled companies. The OneVentures team will provide support to drive these opportunities through the clinical, regulatory and reimbursement processes to achieve prominence in global markets.
The BTF programme was established by the Australian Government Department of Health to provide a pool of public and private funds for investment in promising biomedical innovations with commercialisation potential, managed by leading Australian venture firms. OneVentures was granted an $85 million license supported by matching capital from its private investor network, as one of three licenced venture capital fund managers. Announced in the National Innovation and Science Agenda, the BTF program will deliver long term national health and economic outcomes.
About Paragen Bio
Paragen Biotherapeutics is a biotech company based in Cairns, Queensland that is developing treatments to target autoimmune diseases using the beneficial proteins found in parasitic hookworms. A spin out from James Cook University’s Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, Paragen was commercialised in 2018 as a result of investment from Brandon Capital, OneVentures and AbbVie Ventures.