Australia’s deadliest snakes set to save lives in medical breakthrough / patent update

7th June, Melbourne, Victoria – Australian developed medical technology which uses the blood clotting properties of snakes including the Australian Coastal Taipan, one of the world’s deadliest, is set to revolutionise the world of blood testing and assist the rapid diagnosis and treatment of patients in need of urgent medical attention.

Australian biotechnology company Q-Sera has developed a new blood collection tube which rapidly produces high quality serum for testing. Blood tests are commonly used in medicine to assist the accurate diagnosis of medical problems ranging from heart attacks to diabetes. Serum is the gold standard for biochemical analysis of blood samples and is produced when blood clots. Standard serum tubes clot slowly but can also clot poorly leading to laboratory issues and are unable to clot the blood of some patients – such as anticoagulated cardiac patients or people taking common medicine such as warfarin or other oral anticoagulants. Q-Sera’s technology seeks to provide a cost effective solution to these problems.

Australia is home to most of the world’s deadliest snakes and by isolating proteins in the venom of some of these snakes and others from overseas, Q-Sera has developed a novel class of coagulation agents patented for use in blood collection tubes. These ‘prothrombin activators’ were initially sourced from snake venom but can now be produced from modified cell lines using standard pharmaceutical manufacturing processes (Q-Sera’s lead active produced using these ‘recombinant’ methods is a coagulation agent known as RAPClot™).  

Blood collection tubes are coated with the coagulation agent, resulting in tubes which rapidly produce high quality serum, even if the blood sample contains anti-coagulants. These benefits may translate into cost efficiencies and reductions for healthcare systems and give improved outcomes for patients.

Michael Grant, CEO of Q-Sera, said, “In hospitals, particularly where urgent test results are required, the delay and poor quality of serum can hold-up lifesaving treatment or cause errors in patient diagnosis. Our solution has identified the benefits for serum production of an important class of proteins present in snake venom, some of which are able to be produced in the lab by ‘recombinant’ techniques. While the majority of these snake species may be native to Australia, the impact of this technology will be felt worldwide”.

The Q-Sera technology is based on the research of a team of scientists from The University of Queensland, Australia (UQ). It was licensed to Q-Sera by UniQuest, UQs main commercialisation company and has received investment from two of Australia’s premier innovation sector investors, the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF) and Uniseed who along with other institutional investors have funded Q-Sera’s activities.  

Q-Sera is actively commercialising this ‘disruptive technology’ and is currently working with a number of multinational Medical Device companies to bring this technology and its benefits to the market. To communicate the technology, a clinical paper has been submitted to a major international journal with more to follow. Q-Sera is also pleased to announce that in addition to patent approval in EU, the primary patent has recently been granted in Japan with approvals in other jurisdictions expected shortly.