Celebrating Innovation at NovaUCD – NovaUCD Innovation Award goes to Professor Therese Kinsella of ATXA Therapeutics

15th April 2024

Posted In: Newsflash

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 recently.

A total of 7 Awards, including the main 2024 NovaUCD Innovation Award, were presented by Professor Orla Feely, President, University College Dublin (UCD) during an event held in the UCD University Club last Friday April 12th.

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.”

The 2024 NovaUCD Innovation Award, which recognises 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 Therese Kinsella, CEO and founder of ATXA Therapeutics (pictured above). ATXA Therapeutics is a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company committed to the advancement of innovative, life-changing treatments for cardiopulmonary diseases.

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.

Among the other Award recipients are, EpiCapture, recipient of the 2024 NovaUCD Spin-out of the Year Award and Professor Fiona Timmins, UCD Dean of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems, recipient of the 2024 NovaUCD Consultancy of the Year Award.

EpiCapture, which is focused on developing accurate and non-invasive liquid tests for the early detection and prognostic assessment of high-grade cancers, including prostate cancer, has been named recipient of the 2024 NovaUCD Spin-out of the Year Award.

EpiCapture, recipient of the 2024 NovaUCD Spin-out of the Year Award. Pictured are Co-Founders Edward Simons and Associate Professor Antoinette Perry with Kevin Tansley, CEO.

The company was co-founded in 2021 by Associate Professor Antoinette 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.

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.”

Recipient of the 2024 NovaUCD Consultancy of the Year Award is Professor Fiona Timmins, UCD Dean of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems and Head of the UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems (pictured left).

Professor Timmins, who has a strong interest in consulting, is an active researcher within the field of nursing and nurse education and has a strong track record in writing for publications, both as author and as an Editor. In recent years Professor Timmins has carried out, or is carrying out four consultancy projects, through ConsultUCD, for clients including, Irish Hospice Foundation, UniGe (the University of Genoa) and the HRB.

These consulting projects result in a high level of national and international collaboration and impact that serve to increase the reputation of UCD. There is also a high level of impact upon the nursing profession and clients that they serve, through the enablement of upskilling of nursing professionals and the provision of robust evaluations of health-related projects to inform service delivery.

Professor Timmins is also a strong advocate and supporter of ConsultUCD within her School and within the UCD College of Health and Agricultural Sciences.

On receiving the 2024 NovaUCD Consultancy of the Year Award, Professor Fiona Timmins, said,

“I have had a very positive experience of collaborating with ConsultUCD. The support received enables the UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems to deliver high level consultancy services in a professional and efficient manner.

I am grateful to all of my colleagues involved in these projects who have worked tirelessly to ensure a quality service and outcome that supports the School’s growing reputation as a centre of excellence globally and ultimately informs improvements in health and social care which is at the core of the School’s mission.”

The other four 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 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.

Further details can be found here>>


Pictured (l-r) at the UCD University Club are; Prof. Kate Robson Brown, UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact; Assoc. Prof. Nan Zhang, UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering; Prof. Jonathan Drennan, UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems; Prof. Nick Holden, UCD School of Biosystems and Food Engineering; Prof. Orla Feely, President, UCD; Prof. Therese Kinsella, founder and CEO of ATXA Therapeutics; Hugh Sheehy, co-founder and CEO, Go Eve; John Byrne, founder and CEO; Corlytics; Assoc. Prof. Antoinette Perry, UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science and co-founder, EpiCapture and Tom Flanagan, UCD Director of Enterprise and Commercialisation. Note: Prof. Drennan collected the 2024 NovaUCD Consultancy of the Year Award on behalf of Prof. Fiona Timmins.