NZ balm set for success

After six years and $90 million spent in development, a Kiwi biotechnology company is close to cracking the big time with a unique wound-healing ointment called Nexagon.

The science behind Nexagon was born from the laboratories of Auckland University scientists Colin Greene and David Becker in the middle of last decade.

With the help of a visiting American patent attorney, Brad Duft, the group formed a company called CoDa Therapeutics in 2006 and began the long road to commercialising the scientific breakthrough.

CoDa chief operating officer Tracey Sunderland was employee No 2, after CEO Duft, and has helped it reach 16 staff, 11 of whom are based firmly in New Zealand despite the temptation to take the business overseas.

Sunderland said Nexagon had just reached a huge milestone in its development by successfully completing a Phase 2B clinical trial, meaning only two more clinical trials stand in the way of CoDa and a multibillion-dollar consumer market for wound healing.

"It's quite exciting and I think there's not very many startup bio- tech companies that have got this far in New Zealand so it's very exciting for the industry here," Sunderland said.

The science behind Nexagon was distinct from the many other attempts to help heal chronic wounds like venous leg ulcers and diabetic foot ulcers, she said.

"Wound healing has been a graveyard of failures over many years, and they usually bomb out in phase 2.

"In the past people have tried to use growth factors and basically put something into the body that makes it do something it doesn't want to do." Fairfax NZ

Taranaki Daily News