SYDNEY, Australia ¿ Promix Pty. Ltd. intends to take a potential cure for rheumatoid arthritis to clinical trials in 12 to 18 months after receiving funding of A$3 million (US$1.8 million) from two major Australian venture capital funds.

Promix, based in Brisbane, has received the funds from Start-Up Australia, based in Sydney, and Rothschilds Bioscience Managers, of Melbourne, to develop a molecule known to the company as 3D53.

Promix Chief Executive Alan Robertson said the molecule originally was discovered by researchers at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, and identified as capable of blocking the cell receptor for the protein known as C5A.

As C5A plays a key role in the complement system of the inflammatory cascade that is a feature of the autoimmune diseases, 3D53 may then be useful in damping down the inflammatory response involved in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. In that form of arthritis, the body¿s normal response to an infection goes out of kilter and the body tissues, in effect, start attacking themselves.

Robertson said the protein has shown promise in tests to date, is expected to be in clinical trials in the next 12-18 months, and may be usable against a range of diseases.

He also said the A$3 million received from the two funds is the company¿s first round of funding, but that it is looking for additional financing. ¿ Mark Lawson