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HMRI hosted ImmVirX raises $22 million for human trials

May 20 2021

ImmVirX Pty Ltd has announced the successful completion of $22 million in fundraising, which will go towards the first human studies of its new cancer treatment. ImmVirX is a biotechnology company based at the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI*) and is supported by the University of Newcastle Research Associates (TUNRA).

ImmVirX was founded in 2019 by the team from Viralytics, which was sold for A$502 million in 2018 - the largest biotech sale in Australia’s history. ImmVirX builds on the technology behind Viralytics by developing novel oncolytic viruses to create powerful new cancer immunotherapy combinations. 

Where Viralytics targeted melanoma, ImmVirX’s technology has applications in ovarian, colorectal and gastric cancers. The novel approach harnesses the power of viruses to preferentially infect and kill cancer cells and induce systemic anti-tumour immune responses. 

ImmVirX Co-Founder, Chief Scientific Officer and HMRI affiliate researcher Professor Darren Shafren said the success of both Viralytics and now ImmVirX would not have been possible without the support of the University of Newcastle and HMRI.

“Our approach to using RNA viruses to target cancer cells is based off work that I began as an early career researcher at HMRI and the University of Newcastle,” Professor Shafren said.

“We have maintained our relationship as we transitioned to a private enterprise and continue to maintain our R&D facilities within the state-of-the-art HMRI building. It’s a partnership which continues to pay off.”

HMRI Director Professor Mike Calford said ImmVirX was a shining example of the importance of investment in early career research.

“Starting with generous philanthropic support through HMRI and the Greater Bank, the success of Viralytics and now ImmVirX has led to a large injection of funds into the local economy as well as the secure employment of highly skilled scientists,” Professor Calford said.

“Fostering the next generation of biotechnology companies and then giving them the incentive to remain here is part of our mission to improve the health and wellbeing of our local Hunter region.”

* HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.

For more information on ImmVirX visit - www.immvirx.com/