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Protagonist secures US$9M financing for novel therapeutic programs

Monday, 18 September 2006
Protagonist secures US$9M financing for novel therapeutic programs

2006-09-19 - [Brisbane, Australia] -- Protagonist, a biotechnology company developing novel therapeutics for inflammatory and metabolic conditions, today announced the successful closing of a US$9M (est. AU$11.9M) Series A financing. The round was led by Lilly Ventures, together with co-investors StarFish Ventures and Queensland BioCapital Funds (QBF).

As a result of the investments, Dr. Ron Laufer from Lilly Ventures, Dr. Michael Panaccio from Starfish Ventures and Dr. Gregor Rozenberg from QBF have joined the Protagonist Board of Directors.

“This successful financing is a significant milestone for us,” said Dr. Mark Smythe, chief executive officer and founder of Protagonist. “The funding allows us to continue existing drug discovery programs and pursue new opportunities.”

“We are now in a strong position to advance our new therapies to clinical trial stage,” he said.

Protagonist is focused on discovering small molecules and constrained peptides that mimic or inhibit interactions between proteins. The company’s discovery platform is a combination of innovative drug design and synthetic chemistry and is the source of its novel and proprietary pipeline of potential medicines.

“Protagonist has world-class drug discovery capabilities, aimed at significant unmet medical needs,” said Ron Laufer, a Principal of Lilly Ventures. “Lilly Ventures is very pleased that our investment can help advance this research.”

About Protagonist
Protagonist Pty Ltd is a Brisbane-based biotechnology company that has access to established chemistry, biology and molecular design laboratories. A spin-out of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB), Protagonist is focused on the discovery of drug candidates for targets previously resistant to smallmolecule discovery (protein-protein interactions) and on designing and constructing arrays of molecules that sample biologically-relevant regions of chemical diversity. For more information visit
About the investors

Queensland BioCapital Fund
QBF is a $100 million closed end venture capital fund which invests in the human biosciences sector. QBF has made nine investments to date and is actively assessing several other opportunities. Queensland BioCapital Funds Pty Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of QIC, a $50 billion wholesale funds manager. QIC have a consistent record of achieving above industry-average returns on investment.

Starfish Ventures
Established in 2001, Starfish Ventures is an Australian owned venture capital fund manager seeking superior returns through active investment in innovative technology companies. Starfish Ventures has over $150 million in funds under management and has made investments in over 20 companies to date. Starfish seeks investments in emerging Australian businesses across all technology sectors including, information and communications technology, biotechnology and life sciences, industrial technology and material sciences. The team's track record includes Australian technology success stories ResMed, Moldflow, Preston Aviation Solution and Sirtex Medical.

Lilly Ventures
Lilly Ventures is the venture capital arm of Eli Lilly and Company, a leading innovation-driven pharmaceutical company. Our primary goal is to facilitate the success of companies in our areas of focus through early to expansion stage investments and value-adding resources. Lilly Ventures currently has US$175 million under management and focused on three major areas of interest: biotechnology; healthcare IT; and medical technology.

More information:
Dr. Mark Smythe
Ph: +61 7 3346 2975

To request a media backgrounder or further information on Lilly Ventures:
Damian Kassabgi or Paul Dale
Eli Lilly Australia
Ph: +61 2 9325 4444