Spinifex: CEO, Tom McCarthy explains their new approach to the treatment of pain.

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Video title: Spinifex: CEO, Tom McCarthy explains their new approach to the treatment of pain.
Released on: November 02, 2011. © PharmaTelevision Ltd
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In this episode of PharmaTelevision News Review, Fintan Walton talks to Tom McCarthy, CEO of Spinifex.
Spinifex's focus on developing new drugs for pain
Paul Larsmon :
Hello and welcome to PharmaTelevision News Review here at BioPartnering Europe 2011. Well with me today is Tom McCarthy, the CEO and MD of Spinifex an Australian biotech. Tom, tell us a little bit about your company.
Tom McCarthy:
Well Spinifex is focused on developing new drugs for pain and particularly neuropathic pain which is a group of painful conditions that are a result of dysfunction to the nervous system , so a headline neuropathic pain indication is diabetic neuropathy which really means a complication associated with the disease of diabetes and it means you have diabetes you have problems with your peripheral vasculature and you have therefore problems with your peripheral nervous system as well and that leads to pain, that leads to hypersensitivity and that's a type of indication that we are trying to treat.
EMA401 Drug candidate
Paul Larsmon :
And at what stage is your drug candidate EMA401 at now?
Tom McCarthy:
So we are in Phase II clinical development, we have one study underway and we got two others planned in broad neuropathic pain indication, so we have to figure out whether this molecule will help patients in those Phase II indications and then take the molecule further into development.
Paul Larsmon :
How does it work?
Tom McCarthy:
Well we're targeting a new receptor that nobody else is focused on, it comes out of some work by an academic Maree Smith at the University of Queensland, she was able to identify the sort of central role of this receptor in the transduction of a painful signal and we are trying to block that painful signal by blocking that receptor.
Business model
Paul Larsmon :
Can you tell me a little bit about the business plan how is Spinifex got to this stage and what's happening going forward?
Tom McCarthy:
So Spinifex is a private company a venture capital backed private company and at this stage the investors are all Australian investors so we've got a good group of Australian venture capital investors that have invested in Spinifex over the last five-years to take a compound that we call EMA401 that's our clinical candidate through to where we are today in Phase II clinical trials.
Paul Larsmon :
I think you'll be the envy of some European and American biotech's who are finding funding very difficult at the moment is it I think it's easier in Australia?
Tom McCarthy:
Look not tremendously easier, I think the problems in the global financial arena we are not immune to them but there is venture capital money available in Australia, we have tapped into good network cum investors and so we are happy with our financial position. Australian economy is doing a bit better than the US and Europe, we didn't have we don't have the property bubble and we don't have the sort of banking crisis those sort of play both of those geographies, so touchwood the Australian economy is in fair shape.
Partnering strategy
Paul Larsmon :
And you are attending BioPartnering Europe in London, what are you looking for here?
Tom McCarthy:
We really are talking to the multinationals, the larger pharmaceutical companies telling them about our approach to the treatment of pain, telling them about the clinical data to date and our plans going forward, because we do see them as a natural partner for our technology, we do believe in that symbiotic relationship between biotech and pharma we'll take the compound a certain way, but we would like to find that commercialization partner for down the track.
Future growth plans
Paul Larsmon :
Talking about down the track, how would you see Spinifex since say five years time?
Tom McCarthy:
Well we hope the drug is shown to work in patients and is through Phase through studies and if not on the market close to being on the market, neuropathic pain patients need better therapy and so we hope that EMA401 sort of meets that unmet medical need, but it all depend on the strength of the clinical data.
Paul Larsmon :
Tom McCarthy, thank you very much for joining us.
Tom McCarthy:
Alright, thank you.
Paul Larsmon
Paul Larsmon has worked as a broadcast television journalist for 25 years, covering general news, business and politics. He has been both presenter and producer in several news broadcasters, including the major British television news company ITN. He joined PharmaTelevision as Executive Producer earlier this year and has been responsible for getting PTV News launched.
Tom McCarthy
Tom McCarthy currently serves as Chief Executive Officer & Managing Director of Spinifex Pharmaceuticals. He has over 16 years experience in drug discovery and development and has been responsible for a variety of drug development programs under Investigation New Drug applications (IND) with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Dr. McCarthy prior positions include Vice President, Drug Development at Starpharma Pty Ltd where he was responsible for Starpharma's projects from lead candidate optimization/selection through to IND submission and clinical trials. In this role he managed the development for SPL7013 Gel (VivaGel) and was responsible for securing in excess of US$25M of United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding for Starpharma's drug development programs. Dr. McCarthy completed a Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree and a Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry at Monash University in 1989 and 1993 respectively and has completed post-doctoral training at the University of Oxford.
PharmaVentures is a company that has proven success in deals and alliances. PharmaVentures offers: Over 18 years of healthcare industry experience gained from working with in excess of 1000 clients in 38 countries, and conducting more than 450 assignments Over 40 specialist advisors, analysts and researchers Skills honed in many countries - 80% of its business comes from outside the UK.
Spinifex Pharmaceuticals
Spinifex Pharmaceuticals is an Australian biotechnology company developing new drug candidates for the treatment and management of pain. Established in 2005 and based in Melbourne, Spinifex has applied its world-class drug development capabilities to advance product candidates. Its lead product EMA401 is under development as a potential first-in-class oral treatment for neuropathic pain and related symptoms without CNS side effects. Spinifex is conducting Phase 2 clinical trials with EMA401 in a number of neuropathic pain conditions. Spinifex investors are GBS Venture Partners, Brandon Capital Partners, Uniseed and UniQuest.