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UQ startup acquired by Pfizer

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Global biopharmaceutical company Pfizer has acquired University of Queensland startup ResApp Health Limited for $179 million.

ResApp, an ASX-listed company based in Brisbane, has developed simple and inexpensive smartphone technology that can accurately identify respiratory diseases based on cough analysis.

UQ Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry said the acquisition, finalised yesterday, was an outstanding outcome for the company, the University and the associated researchers.

“The value of translating research into new point of care diagnostics to improve healthcare on a global scale cannot be understated,” Professor Terry said.

UQ’s commercialisation company UniQuest licensed the UQ technology to ResApp in September 2014.

The technology records a patient’s cough on a smartphone and analyses sounds and simple symptoms, such as a runny nose, to diagnose and measure the severity of a range of chronic and acute diseases.

They include asthma, pneumonia, bronchiolitis, croup and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

ResApp recently announced positive results for its COVID-19 screening test.

Clinical trials are continuing and the company said if successful the technology could potentially reduce the number of PCR and rapid antigen tests used worldwide.

The UQ technology licenced to ResApp was developed by Associate Professor Udantha Abeyratne and his team at UQ’s School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering.

“We worked closely with paediatricians and respiratory physicians to develop the diagnostic technology,” Dr Abeyratne said.

The technology has received global awards and recognition, including a prestigious Global Grand Challenges grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

UniQuest CEO Dr Dean Moss said he had watched the growth of the health-tech company keenly.

“This is one of the most exciting Australian biotech deals to come out of university research,” Dr Moss said.

“It’s rewarding that the company’s technological breakthroughs have attracted this significant international backing.”

ResAppDx is CE Marked in the European Union and TGA approved in Australia.

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