How medical research and innovation is transformed into commercially viable products

How medical research and innovation is transformed into commercially viable products
Image: the Saliva Glucose Biosensor, the first non-invasive, pain-free replacement for finger-prick glucose testing for people living with diabetes.
This article is sponsored by The iQ Group Global.

What if we could create a world free of disease? That’s the only question on the mind of The iQ Group Global.

Recognised as one of Australia and New Zealand’s Top 5 Most Innovative Companies by The Australian Financial Review and BOSS Magazine in 2019, the biotech enterprise has a firm desire to create the medicines of tomorrow, focusing on unmet medical needs.

“There is no other business in the world that does what we do,” said Group Chief Executive Officer of The iQ Group Global, Dr George Syrmalis.

“The way we operate in finding the IP and generating in-house investment capital and subsequent synergies in research and development, our operation model decreases the cost of commercialisation.”

The Group’s mandate is to find, fund and develop life-changing bioscience discoveries — discoveries that can often take approximately 10 years to get from the lab to the regulator and cost close to $2 billion in research and development costs, however, they are in it for the long haul. 

Their focus is to acquire platform assets as opposed to single compounds straight from universities, corporatise them in a portfolio company and then fund the research and development of the asset for biotech. The Group also funds rounds and investment instruments until research projects translate into medical products. The Group always opts to remain the majority shareholder and stakeholder.

“As much as this can be viewed as a business focus, we see it — more importantly — as an ethical approach, as we can be there to ensure our work is seen through to completion and supports the patient group it was originally intended to serve,” Dr Syrmalis said.

The Group controls their entire operation by doing everything in-house, including the funding.

“We do this through qualified and institutional investors across multiple funding rounds, this creates the ability for investors to exit at different phases of the development lifecycle,” Dr Syrmalis added. 

“Planned investor exit options are very important to any investor as the majority of investors don’t want to wait for their investment to pay off in alignment to the regulatory approval or sublicensing, given that this could be a cycle of eight years or more.”

It’s The Group’s strategy to list their portfolio companies on stock exchanges, as they recently did with their innovative life sciences diagnostic portfolio company, GBS Inc. (Nasdaq: GBS) and are currently in the process of doing so with their innovative US-based oncology therapeutics portfolio company, OncoTEX Inc.

“OncoTEX and the development of its lead candidate, an ovarian cancer-fighting drug, OxaliTEX, will play a vital role in addressing a significant unmet medical need and will bring us closer to our goal of giving the hundreds of thousands of women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year access to a powerful new weapon,” Dr Syrmalis said.

The drug works by targeting only tumours, including platinum-resistant tumours; reactivates the p53 gene, which is responsible for cancer suppression; all this with minimal side effects, unlike all other platinum-based chemotherapy drugs.

“By overcoming this resistance, localising the drug only in the tumour and reactivating the p53 oncogene which is considered the guardian of the genome, we significantly reduce side effects, and we can hopefully save lives,” Dr Syrmalis said.

“In terms of philosophy of operation, The iQ Group Global focuses on the fusion of knowledge between modalities, creating exponential innovations as opposed to marginal improvements.” 

“We are only interested in revolutionary scientific models that translate into applied life-changing innovations that fulfil the gap of an unmet medical need.”  

The Group was recognised in 2019 for its innovation, the Saliva Glucose Biosensor, which is the first non-invasive, pain-free replacement for finger-prick glucose testing for people living with diabetes.

The Biosensor increases the compliance of patients regularly monitoring their glucose levels as the technology uses saliva, removing the need for people living with diabetes to have to puncture their fingers multiple times a day. 

“We wanted to create an innovative product that could be applied towards monitoring glucose to the same specifications as a conventional finger-prick test, but through the use of saliva, making it a painless exercise,” Dr Syrmalis said.

Further to the glucose test and in response to the COVID pandemic, The Group has used the Biosensor platform to develop a SARS-CoV-2 Antibody saliva quantitative rapid point-of-care diagnostic test to monitor exposure and immunity levels in real-time in the population. The SARS-CoV-2 Biosensor is being developed in collaboration with the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University.

GBS was also recently one of six National Manufacturing Priorities identified by the Australian Federal Government for its impending contribution to the scientific sector and was awarded a US$6.3 million grant to create a pilot manufacturing facility for production of their world-first Biosensor technology.

For Dr Syrmalis and the entire enterprise team, The iQ Group Global is not just a parent company with multiple subsidiaries, but three distinctly different but strategically aligned platforms. 

First is their IP asset management platform which finds the early-stage scientific projects that merit research and development to create a compound or medical device that will satisfy an unmet medical need, all this from global academic institutions. 

The second platform is the investment banking platform which funds and corporatises those projects from the university and provides investors with the ability to invest in the portfolio company that holds the underlying asset. 

So, through the combination of these two platforms, a third platform is created, the portfolio companies’ platform, that develops these new medicines or medical devices for patients worldwide.

To read more of The iQ Group Global’s research and progress, head here.