Founders of ATXA Therapeutics and EpiCapture receive innovation awards


The recipients of NovaUCD’s annual innovation awards, which highlight successes made in areas of knowledge transfer, consultancy, entrepreneurship and the promotion of an innovation culture, by members of the UCD research, innovation and entrepreneurial community were announced on April 12, 2024.
Conway Fellows, Professor Therese Kinsella and Associate Professor Antoinette Perry were presented with awards by UCD President, Professor Orla Feely during an event held in the UCD University Club. 
The 2024 NovaUCD Innovation Award, recognising excellence in innovation or of successes achieved in the commercialisation of UCD research, or other intellectual activity, over a number of years, was awarded to Professor Kinsella, CEO and founder of ATXA Therapeutics. ATXA Therapeutics is a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company committed to the advancement of innovative, life-changing treatments for cardiopulmonary diseases. 

Women smiling with award plaqueProfessor Therese Kinsella (left) pictured with UCD President, Professor Orla Feely (Credit: Nick Bradshaw, Fotonic)

The 2024 NovaUCD Spin-out of the Year Award was awarded to EpiCapture, which was co-founded in 2021 by Associate Professor Perry, Co-Director of the UCD Cancer Biology and Therapeutics Lab, and Edward Simons, as a spin-out from the UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science.

Professor Orla Feely, President, UCD said, “The NovaUCD Innovation Awards have become a key annual event highlighting the University’s commitment to innovation and recognise the achievements of our research, innovation and entrepreneurial communities and I congratulate all who have received this year’s Awards. I would also like to wish the Awardees future success as they continue to work towards delivering economic and societal impact in Ireland, and further afield, through their commercialisation, consultancy, entrepreneurial and innovation activities.”

ATXA Therapeutics

The company was founded by Professor Kinsella, a biochemist and a leading expert in the field of prostanoid biology, in 2015 as a spin-out from the UCD School of Molecular and Biomedical Science based on over 20 years of research carried out by her and her team at the UCD Conway Institute.

The company’s focus is the development of its lead candidate drug NTP42 for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). PAH is a devastating disease of the lungs and heart with an urgent unmet need for new improved therapies. While the condition itself is classed as a rare or orphan disease, affecting 15-50 patients per million of the population, it carries an enormous health burden with an annual spend in excess of $8 billion globally on prescribed medicines alone in 2023. 
Through NTP42, which has orphan drug designations from both the EMA in Europe and the FDA in the US, ATXA aims to offer improved treatment options to prescribing physicians. The company has successfully completed initial First-in-Human Phase I clinical trials for NTP42 in healthy male volunteers. Earlier this year, the company successfully completed a bridging clinical trial testing of a novel oral capsule formulation of NTP42 in men and women.
On receiving the 2024 NovaUCD Innovation Award, Professor Therese Kinsella, CEO and Founder, ATXA Therapeutics, said, “It is indeed a great honour for me to accept this Award from UCD both personally and on behalf of everyone on the ATXA team who have been part of our success journey so far.”
She added, “The company is working towards commencing Phase II clinical trials in PAH patients to demonstrate NTP42’s clinical efficiency. Depending on securing approval from the EMA and FDA regulatory agencies, as well as the necessary inward investment, the Phase II trials are due to run from 2025 through to late 2026.”
ATXA Therapeutics, headquartered at the UCD Conway Institute, has raised over €17 million in funding (equity and grant) to date, and Professor Kinsella and ATXA have a patent estate of 16 granted patents, in Europe, USA, Canada, Japan, and Australia, with numerous others filed globally protecting their drugs out to the mid-2040s.

Women smiling with award plaqueAssociate Professor Antoinette Perry (left) pictured with UCD President, Professor Orla Feely. (Credit: Nick Bradshaw, Fotonic)


EpiCapture focuses on developing accurate and non-invasive liquid tests for the early detection and prognostic assessment of high-grade cancers, including prostate cancer.
EpiCapture-prostate, the company’s first test which is currently in development, is a novel urine DNA test to detect high grade prostate cancer. EpiCapture-prostate selectively detects high grade prostate cancer by measuring epigenetic changes at six genes in urine using a PCR platform to generate a score, indicating the likelihood that a person has high grade prostate cancer.

The initial intended use of the test is as a disease monitoring tool for patients on active surveillance, i.e. patients who have been diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer, to be used repeatedly to monitor disease progression.
In the last year EpiCapture, an Enterprise Ireland high-potential start-up also supported by EIT Health, has completed two multi-centre international studies, appointed Dr Jim Walsh as Chairman and Kevin Tansley as CEO as part of a team of seven and established the company’s headquarters to NovaUCD. 
On receiving the 2024 NovaUCD Spin-out of the Year Award, Associate Professor Antoinette Perry, CSO and co-founder, EpiCapture, said, “We are absolutely delighted with this award. We continue to work hard to make our prostate cancer test available to the millions of men and their clinicians who will benefit from an accurate, non-invasive test.” 
She added, “EpiCapture plans to close a seed round in 2024 that will fund two further multi-centre studies and reach first revenues in two years.”

The other five recipients of 2024 NovaUCD Innovation Awards are;

  • 2024 NovaUCD Invention of the Year Award: Associate Professor Nan Zhang, UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering

  • 2024 NovaUCD Consultancy of the Year Award: Professor Fiona Timmins, UCD School of School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems

  • 2024 NovaUCD Licence of the Year Award: Go Eve

  • 2024 NovaUCD Founder of the Year Award: John Byrne, CEO and Founder, Corlytics.

  • 2024 NovaUCD Innovation Champion of the Year Award: Professor Nick Holden, UCD School of Biosystems and Food Engineering.

Full details of the other awardees can be found on here.