2016 Clunies Ross Knowledge Commercialisation Award - Professor Maree Smith FTSE

June 15, 2016
Clunies Ross Knowledge Commercialisation Award 2016 - Professor Maree Smith FTSE, Executive Director, Centre for Integrated Preclinical Drug Development, University of Queensland. Finding pain relief solutions. Professor Smith is recognised internationally for her significant and sustained contributions to pain relief and pharmaceutical development through her pioneering breakthroughs in drug discovery and translation highlighted by discovery of a first-in-class novel therapeutic (EMA401) to treat neuropathic pain and chronic inflammatory pain. This drug avoids the central nervous system side-effects commonly produced by current pain medicines. She is Executive Director of the Centre for Integrated Preclinical Drug Development (CIPDD) and until recently its commercial interface (TetraQ) and Professor of Pharmacy at The University of Queensland. Professor Smith holds 11 patents in pain relief, with patented novel analgesics technologies licensed to three UQ spin-out companies including Spinifex Pharmaceuticals, formed by UniQuest Pty in 2005 to commercialize her AT2 receptor antagonist IP for the treatment of neuropathic pain, demonstrating a sustained and tenacious pursuit of translational research. Working closely with UQ’s commercialisation company, UniQuest Pty Ltd, Professor Smith pitched the commercialisation opportunity of her discovery to venture capital investors and contributed to preparation of development plans on which were based the establishment in 2005 of start-up company Spinifex Pharmaceuticals (Spinifex), formed by UniQuest with $3.25 million in venture capital funding to protect the initial neuropathic pain patent and to fund early development work. In 2006, UniQuest filed a second patent to protect Professor Smith’s unexpected discovery by that the drug also alleviated chronic inflammatory pain. This second patent was subsequently inlicensed into Spinifex. Funding from a successful Commercial Ready grant, together with commercially raised capital, was used to conduct further research, a preclinical toxicology program, safety and tolerability clinical trials. In 2011, the company raised $18.3 million to fund clinical efficacy trials of EMA401 for the relief of peripheral neuropathic pain and a further $45 million in US venture capital in April 2014 to fund additional clinical trials. In June 2015, Spinifex agreed to its acquisition by Novartis International AG. Professor Smith was awarded the Johnson & Johnson 2015 Industry Leadership Award for service that “goes beyond the job description” and is the Inaugural Inductee into the Life Sciences Queensland Hall of Fame.
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