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UCC Spin-Out, Adiso Therapeutics, shortlisted for KTI Award
The Annual Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI) Awards are taking place on December 1st 2022 in Dublin. These awards recognise significant impact and achievements from knowledge transfer and the commercialisation of publicly funded research in universities and other State research institutions. The awards pay tribute to the work of those within Ireland’s Innovation and Technology Transfer community who provide a vital link between industry and academic research. UCC has had significant success at these awards over the years with 6 awards over the last 6 years. We are delighted that one of our spin-out companies, Adiso Therapeutics, is shortlisted for this year’s commercialisation award, which focuses on spin-out companies.
The Annual Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI) Awards are taking place on December 1st 2022 in Dublin. These awards recognise significant impact and achievements from knowledge transfer and the commercialisation of publicly funded research in universities and other State research institutions. The awards pay tribute to the work of those within Ireland’s Innovation and Technology Transfer community who provide a vital link between industry and academic research.
UCC has had significant success at these awards over the years with 6 awards over the last 6 years. We are delighted that one of our spin-out companies, Adiso Therapeutics, is shortlisted for this year’s commercialisation award, which focuses on spin-out companies. Adiso Therapeutics specialises in developing therapies for patients with chronic and progressive inflammatory diseases. The Adiso team has seen particular success with identifying a treatment for prevention of recurrent Clostridioides difficile infection, leading them to receive fast track approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). We sat down with Professor Paul Ross, one of the founders of Adiso Therapeutics, to discuss the history of the company and its achievement of being shortlisted for the commercialisation award.
Q: Can you tell us about the history of Adiso and what led you to setting it up in the first place?
Adiso came from the 2022 merger of two companies, Artugen Therapeutics (2016 UCC spin out company) and Bacainn Therapeutics. Artugen was founded by myself, UCC’s Professor Colin Hill, and Ronnie Farquhar who worked in antibiotics in a company called Cubist. It evolved from an APC Microbiome Ireland industry day, where the head of Morningside Ventures, Gerald Chan, visited to discuss innovative technologies. He was interested in our anti-microbial work, and in particular molecules that kill the pathogen Clostridium difficile, without causing the collateral damage that you see what other antibiotics. Artugen was formed and, with the help of UCC Innovation, secured a license to base the company on Intellectual Property (IP) owned by UCC and Teagasc. The company has its HQ in Boston, with most of the wet lab work done in Cork in the Teagasc Food Innovation Hub. These anti-microbial technologies have since been fast tracked by the FDA, and Adiso has just finished a phase 1b clinical trial to demonstrate its safety. We’re just about to go into two phase 2 trials – one for Clostridium difficile infection and one for Ulcerative Colitis.
Q: What was it about the technology that was investible?
Antibiotic resistance is a huge problem, and we face a possible future of no effective antibiotics. The WHO estimates that by 2050 we’ll have 10 million deaths¹ worldwide per year from antibiotic resistance. Adiso is exploiting the ability of bacteria to out-compete each other, by producing chemicals that kill bacteria that compete with them in a particular environment, such as the gut microbiome. We are identifying narrow spectrum antimicrobials that kill certain bacteria, particularly harmful ones, but leave the healthy bacteria unscathed. Of the trillions of bacteria that are in your gut, most of them are very good for you. You don’t want to lose all of them. That’s Adiso’s strength - being able to go in and edit microbiomes in a precise way with these anti-microbials.
Q: What have you learned from the spin out process?
Many Adiso team members had industrial experience and were familiar with the pathway into FDA approval. What has been really informative is that Colin and I, as founders, have had the opportunity to be very much involved in the company, but there’s a lot of other people in the company who know more about regulatory approvals, how to do things for scale-up and for preclinical trials – and there’s a whole knowledge base there that as researchers we don’t have on the commercial side, whereas they depend on us for the scientific side.
Q: If you had your time back, would you choose the same spin out journey?
I would definitely repeat a spin-out journey as it is an effective means to get our research into commercial setting, with the ultimate aim of developing a therapeutic to help patients. Colin and I, through spinning out, were able to access regulatory and commercial experts with knowledge that we didn’t have. Looking back on it all, I think the balance between the scientific and commercial side has been at the core of the success of the company. Q: Congratulations on being shortlisted for the KTI Awards, are you and the Adiso team excited? We are all very excited and delighted to be shortlisted. At our recent Adiso meeting the first ten minutes were spent talking about the event and the fact that we were shortlisted, we are so excited and delighted to get this exposure through KTI. It is fantastic for the company, and I do hope there will be more spin-out companies from the APC Microbiome Ireland SFI Research Centre in the future.
This article was taken from UCC Innovates Winter Edition 2022. Link to full newsletter: https://www.ucc.ie/en/media/support/techtransfer/images/newsstoryimages/ttonewsitems2018/UCCInnovationeNews_4Winter2022Edition.pdf