Cork biopharma start-up secures more than €5m in EC funding


30 Jun 2011

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BrePco Biopharma has secured €5.66m in funding for research into the treatment of critically ill premature babies suffering from hypotension – a condition often associated with tragic outcomes.

Set up two years ago by former Elan executives at the Rubicon Centre at Cork Institute of Technology, BrePco Biopharma is now based at the Fota Business Park.

It has collaborated with a consortium of university research centres led by Cork University Maternity Hospital to get the funding from European Commission’s Healthcare FP7 Programme.

The collaboration brings together experts from 13 centres across Ireland, Europe and Canada, and will develop a standard of care and uniquely tailored products for treating low blood pressure in premature newborns.

“This is a significant milestone for our company, as well as for the researchers in Cork University Maternity Hospital, with whom we have been working for the last two years,” said co-founder and chairman of BrePco Biopharma, Paul Breen.

“As this is a European and North American project being sponsored by an Irish company, it speaks volumes about the strength of our indigenous pharmaceutical industry and what we can offer to a global audience. Just to add to this, of the eight clinical trial sites, four of them are based in Ireland.”

Current treatments not suitable

The current treatments available were developed for adults and are not specifically licensed for use in premature babies. The aim of the trial is to develop a ready-to-use, licensed and approved treatment for this unique and vulnerable population.

“The current treatment that is available presents challenges within the intensive care unit and so, together with a consortia of experts, including neonatologists, pharmacologists, neurophysiologists and developmental specialists, we are seeking to bridge that gap in medical care,” said Dr Eugene Dempsey, consultant neonatologist in Cork University Maternity Hospital and chief investigator for the HIP (Hypotension in Premature Babies) trial.

“What we have produced will be more appropriate to administer to premature babies in particular. We are currently going through the clinical trial approval process and expect to commence clinical trials in Europe and Canada late this year.”

Photo, left to right: Dr Eugene Dempsey, consultant neonatologist, Cork University Maternity Hospital and Department of Paediatrics and project co-ordinator for the HIP Trial; and Seamus O’Loan, CEO BrePco Biopharma