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MaRS Innovation Forms Strategic Drug-Development Partnership with NovoTek Therapeutics Inc. in China

ScarX logoMaRS Innovation (MI), The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and NovoTek Therapeutics Inc. (NovoTek)  have announced a strategic partnership to co‐develop, and bring to the Chinese market, a novel therapeutic cream aimed at reducing scar formation post surgery.

This project was covered in The Globe and Mail on May 7, 2012.


For many people, developing excessive scar tissue growth after surgery can cause physical discomfort along with emotional and psychological stress. Each year, approximately 240 million surgeries are performed worldwide. Market research suggests an effective anti‐skin‐scarring therapeutic represents a multi-billion dollar opportunity.

Currently, no clinically-proven prescription therapeutic can prevent excessive dermal scarring.

Recognizing this promising treatment’s value and the challenging financing environment for preclinical stage therapeutics, MI initiated a co-development licensing option agreement with NovoTek. Based in Beijing, China, NovoTek will be responsible for development and commercialization costs for the anti‐scarring medication in the Chinese market.

MI and SickKids will receive clinical development milestone payments from NovoTek; MI will also have access to all preclinical and clinical data generated by NovoTek to support future clinical development for strategic markets outside China, including the United States, Canada, Brazil and Korea.

“With a proven track record in clinical development in China and strong ties to the Ontario research community, we believe that NovoTek and its founder, Dr. Jubo Liu, are ideal partners for MaRS Innovation and SickKids to co‐develop, and ultimately commercialize, the anti-scarring therapeutic in the Chinese marketplace and eventually in other territories,” stated Raphael Hofstein, president and CEO of MaRS Innovation.

Dr. Benjamin Alman, head of the Division of Orthopaedic Surgery and senior scientist, Program in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology at SickKids, discovered that a particular molecule known for its analgesic properties could effectively target myofibroblast cells — the cells responsible for producing scar tissue.

Alman and his team have successfully developed an alternative use for this molecule as an anti‐scarring medication. ScarX, a topical cream containing this molecule, can reduce scarring when applied to a surgical wound, as demonstrated in gold-standard preclinical models.

Clinical trials are expected to begin in early 2013.

“We have a good understanding of which cells are responsible for producing scar tissue during the wound healing process,” says Alman. “The real challenge has been stopping those specific cells from making excessive amounts of scar tissue without negatively impacting the overall wound healing process. This therapeutic cream appears to do exactly that.”

“NovoTek is thrilled to partner with MI and SickKids to address this unmet clinical need by furthering the development of this anti-scarring product and eventually bringing it to the Chinese marketplace,” says Liu, CEO of NovoTek Therapeutics Inc.

Alman is the A.J. Latner professor and chair of Orthopaedics at the University of Toronto, vice-chair research of the department of Surgery, and the interim head of the Toronto Musculoskeletal Center. He is also a Canada Research Chair.

About MaRS Innovation

MaRS Innovation (MI) is the commercialization agent for the exceptional discovery pipeline from 16 leading Ontario academic institutions. As a single-entry point to total member research activity of $1B in annual research and development, MI provides an easy gateway for investors and licensees who wish to gain access to technology assets in Ontario. Supported by the Government of Canada through the Networks of Centres of Excellence, by the Government of Ontario through the Ontario Centres of Excellence, and by its member institutions, MI is a transformational partnership that turns research strengths into real commercial opportunities. MI’s portfolio includes the most promising assets and advances commercialization into global markets through industry partnerships, licensing and company creation.

About The Hospital for Sick Children

The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) is recognized as one of the world’s foremost paediatric health‐care institutions and is Canada’s leading centre dedicated to advancing children’s health through the integration of patient care, research and education. Founded in 1875 and affiliated with the University of Toronto, SickKids is one of Canada’s most research-intensive hospitals and has generated discoveries that have helped children globally.  Its mission is to provide the best in complex and specialized family-centred care; pioneer scientific and clinical advancements; share expertise; foster an academic environment that nurtures health‐care professionals; and champion an accessible, comprehensive and sustainable child health system. SickKids is proud of its vision for Healthier Children.

SickKids is one of MaRS Innovation’s 16 member institutions.

About NovoTek Therapeutics

NovoTek Therapeutics Inc. has established a new platform to facilitate drug development in China by connecting new international technologies with improved China‐based drug development services. NovoTek is also providing a conduit that accesses a rapidly growing market through its strong marketing capability. NovoTek’s new drug R&D platform is dedicated to providing custom synthesis, in‐vitro and in-vivo characterization of drug candidates, regulatory filling and clinical trial execution. The company provides industry-experienced scientists to manage the studies, utilizing the latest technologies and state-of-the-art instruments.

NovoTek’s commercialization platform bears broad capabilities ranging from product market investigation and risk evaluation, and regulatory filling to marketing strategy design and market development. Six marketing branches and more than 500 sales representatives cover more than 80 per cent of China’s pharmaceuticals and medical device market area.

Posted by Elizabeth Monier-Williams, marketing and communications manager.