Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

16.28 21 Sep 2020


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Professor Luke O'Neill said his company hopes a medicine they developed can stop diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's 'in their tracks'.

It comes as the Irish biotech co-founded by Professor O'Neill and Australian researcher Professor Matt Cooper has been acquired by Swiss healthcare giant Roche in a landmark deal worth €380 million.

Inflazome develops treatments for inflammatory diseases, and it was set up four years ago after a collaboration between the University of Queensland and Trinity College Dublin.

Speaking on The Pat Kenny Show, Professor O'Neill said the most important thing is that the sale - which is seen as one of the largest in Irish biotech history - benefits patients.

Irish firm co-founded by Prof Luke O'Neill bought by healthcare giant for €380m

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He observed: "We found a very interesting medicine, that can treat inflammatory diseases - and then we've been bought by Roche.

"We needed to get bought, because they can take it to patients - that's the really good news... it's tremendously exciting.

"We're talking about Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, cardiovascular disease."

He said all those diseases "seem to involve one thing that goes wrong in the body", and their drug aims to correct it.

'Stopping Parkinson's in its tracks'

Professor O'Neill said the investors spent around €55 million on the company so far and are now set for a big return, while Trinity College is also set to benefit.

He observed: "Can you imagine if we find a treatment for Parkinson's? That's a devastating disease.

"There are no treatments, almost - there are some treatments that slow it down a bit. We think our treatment might stop Parkinson's in its tracks, and Alzheimer's.

"These two are inflammatory diseases of the brain - your brain is on fire, almost, and our drug can put that fire out."

Professor O'Neill said proving the effectiveness of the drug will cost an "awful lot of money" in trials - and a big company is needed to fund the necessary testing.

He added: "An Irish company found this drug, and then Roche said 'we want to partner with you guys'. It's fantastic we can have this partnership with them.

"Michael J Fox [Foundation] are delighted as well, because they invested in us... they were helping fund some of our work. What they want is to see this [given to] patients as soon as possible, to treat patients with Parkinson's."


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