Toronto-based AvidBiologics Inc., a leading Canadian biotech company, and the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) are collaborating on one of the most promising advances in the fight against cancer: antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs).
Recently signed research and licensing agreements will enable both organizations to continue developing a series of ADCs targeting breast, lung, and head-and-neck cancers. Unlike chemotherapy, ADCs specifically seek and destroy cancer cells, with minimal impact on healthy cells.
“The work performed by NRC is crucial to assembling the data package needed for clinical trials,” said Ilia A. Tikhomirov, president and CEO of Avid Biologics, which focuses exclusively on ADCs. “We are privileged to be able to continue the rapid development of our lead candidate while advancing the other candidates in the pipeline in collaboration with the NRC. We thank the NRC and all of our partners for their support as AvidBiologics transitions from a discovery-stage to a development-stage company.”
Since the start of the project in early 2013, NRC’s antibody expertise has helped advance AvidBiologics’ lead treatment more rapidly. By late September 2014, the data helped convince Avid’s investors to close a new financing round. Avid will now complete confirmatory preclinical testing for its lead candidate in anticipation of its initial clinical trial in 2015, bringing this promising new treatment several steps closer to patients.
“Our work with leading Canadian biotech companies such as AvidBiologics shows how the National Research Council’s world-class expertise can help in the fight against cancer and improve the lives of Canadians,” said Roman Szumski, vice-president of Life Sciences at the NRC. “Collaborating with Avid exemplifies how NRC is helping industry progress research from the lab to the marketplace.”
In Canada, about 157,000 people are currently diagnosed with breast cancer, 39,500 with lung cancer, and 5,000 with head-and-neck cancers. Antibody-drug conjugates combine the targeting attributes of antibodies with the cancer-destroying properties of drugs that are toxic to cells.
The NRC has also developed a custom cell line needed to produce the antibody and is optimizing the parameters for its production. The goal is to transfer the cell line and bioprocess to a Canadian contract manufacturing organization to produce the clinical trial material. The NRC’s research and development of new cancer treatments is aligned with the Government of Canada’s commitment to ensuring the health of Canadians.