Snake venom start-up Q-Sera sinks its teeth into $900,000 investment

Q-Sera, a start-up that has emerged from the University of Queensland, has raised $900,000 to develop technology for producing a high quality serum based on the blood clotting properties of snake venom.


Q-Sera is the latest biotechnology company to commercialise intellectual property from the University of Queensland (UQ) following a number of notable recent successes, including a $15 million investment round for a needle-free vaccine developed by Vaxxas


The money for Q-Sera, which will be used to develop an improved blood collection tube, has come from the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF) and the Uniseed Commercialisation Fund.


Based on the blood clotting properties of specific snake venom, Q-Sera will develop technology for producing high quality serum in a clinical setting.


UniQuest, UQ’s main commercialisation arm, negotiated an agreement between UQ, MRCF and Uniseed to licence the innovative serum production technology to Q-Sera.


It is based on the research of Dr Martin Lavin from the UQ Centre for Clinical Research, Dr Paul Masci from the School of Medicine and Dr John de Jersey from the School of Chemistry & Molecular Biosciences.


According to UniQuest managing director David Henderson, this investment is UQ’s first transaction with the MRCF, but the 18th transaction with Uniseed.


“That’s a powerful endorsement of UQ’s quality of translational research,” Henderson said in a statement.

“The Q-Sera deal also highlights the value that collaborations… can add to the efforts of Australian researchers working on innovative solutions to common clinical needs.”


The Q-Sera technology aims to reduce the time required to produce high quality serum in blood clotting tubes, used in biochemical and other pathology assays.


It involves coating blood collection tubes with a naturally occurring coagulation agent, isolated from the venom of certain Australian snakes to accelerate the clotting of blood.


Serum is produced by allowing the blood to clot then applying centrifugation to separate the serum.


Tubes currently used contain a clot activator, but they are unable to clot blood from some patients. This limitation risks inaccurate clinical results and diagnosis.


The Q-Sera research has demonstrated successful clotting of such blood samples, providing a higher degree of confidence around patient diagnosis and patient care.


Uniseed chief executive Peter Devine says the opportunity to add another uniquely Australian discovery to Uniseed’s biotechnology investment portfolio was particularly appealing.


“The Q-Sera research has isolated an important class of proteins from certain Australian snakes that have the ability to rapidly clot blood in a blood collection tube,” Dr Devine says.


“The species may be native to Australia but the impact of this technology is likely to be felt worldwide.”


No other terms of the agreement have been disclosed.


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