An Australian startup will use a $14 million investment to develop a vaccine for periodontal disease, which affects a third of all adults around the world, according to the University of Melbourne Dental School.
Denteric Pty Ltd was established to develop and commercialize the research output of a long-running program operating at the school in collaboration with CSL Limited, Australia’s largest biotechnology company.
The partners announced the Series A investment during the launch of the school’s Centre for Oral Health Research (COHR).
The funding comes from the Medical Research Commercialization Fund (MRCF) Biomedical Translation Fund, a Commonwealth-backed fund managed by Brandon Capital Partners, CSL Limited, and the University of Melbourne.
Denteric will focus on developing the therapeutic vaccine for treating periodontal disease, which damages periodontal soft tissue and alveolar bones. It also is associated with diabetes, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, dementia, and certain cancers.
Poor oral hygiene is the leading cause of periodontitis, but no cures are available. Moderate to severe periodontitis affects more than 50% of Australians over the age of 65.
University of Melbourne professor Eric Reynolds, founder and CEO of the COHR, said the creation of Denteric is the perfect example of public-private collaboration with the thriving Melbourne Biomedical Precinct.
“My team has been developing this critical treatment for periodontal disease over many years at the University of Melbourne,” Reynolds said. “Today, in a true partnership with the Australian government and private capital, we have launched a company which will bring a Melbourne-developed gum disease therapy to market.”
MRCF CEO Dr. Chris Nave said a treatment for periodontal disease is much needed, as the condition is highly prevalent and affects millions of people globally.
“Current methods for treating periodontal disease are archaic and painful. Looking at the science and market opportunity for Denteric, the Porphyromonas gingivalis(Pg) vaccine research program has great promise, and the vaccine would be a blockbuster if it comes to market,” said Nave.
CSL Limited senior vice president of research Dr. Andrew Nash said it’s exciting to see the treatment progress to the next stage of development.
“We’ve seen significant potential in this treatment from the early days, and we are pleased to continue our support for the program through Series A investment into Denteric,” said Nash. “The potential to address unmet medical needs with a new vaccine is very important.”
“We welcome the significant investment in this critical research, which has the potential to change the lives of people around the world,” said Jim McCluskey, deputy vice chancellor (research) at the University of Melbourne.
The Series A investment will go toward progressing the Pg vaccine research program. It was a lead program at the Oral Health Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), which was funded under the Australian Government’s CRC Program from 2003 to 2018.
The Oral Health CRC, which has long been supported by funding from the Victorian government, Australian government, CSL Limited, and the University of Melbourne, is no longer part of the CRC Program.
As part of a new agreement, the CRC has been transformed into the University of Melbourne’s COHR, which will come under the University of Melbourne Dental School.
Those who worked on the Pgvaccine research program as part of the Oral Health CRC will continue to support the established collaborative research and commercialization relationship with Denteric, which hopes to commence its first clinical trial in humans in the next two to three years.