Biotechnology Focus, a compendium of the Canadian life sciences industry, has published the following guest column by Dr. Raphael Hofstein, MaRS Innovation’s president & CEO, and Elizabeth Monier-Williams, director of…
TORONTO, ON (September 30, 2015) — Encycle Therapeutics, Inc., a University of Toronto spin-off company created in partnership with MaRS Innovation, announced today that it has completed a $2.85 million (CAD) financing led by Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd. through its venture capital arm, Takeda Ventures, Inc., with Accel-Rx Health Sciences Accelerator, BDC Capital and MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund.
The funding will support ongoing development of Encycle’s unique nacellin platform chemistry and advance the company’s pipeline of novel therapeutics. It will also allow the company to build on research collaborations with several pharmaceutical companies and ultimately position it for a series A transaction and/or additional strategic partnerships.
“Our proprietary chemistry has the potential to unlock myriad therapeutic avenues, including via intracellular protein-protein interactions that cannot be targeted with conventional therapeutics,” said Dr. Jeffrey Coull, president and CEO of Encycle Therapeutics; upon the closing, Coull joined Encycle’s board of directions. “This funding is critical to enable the company to further explore the vast potential of our technology and to de-risk it to the extent that major transactions will be enabled.”
“Our goal is to make an impact on patients’ lives by turning science and technology into life-changing medicines. We are enthusiastic about Encycle’s technology and its potential in the context of ‘undruggable’ proteins,” said Dr. Ilan Zipkin, senior investment director at Takeda.
“Encycle’s growing momentum reflects MaRS Innovation’s efforts to shift the Canadian paradigm for technology transfer,” said Dr. Raphael Hofstein, chairman of the Encycle Therapeutics Board of Directors and president and CEO of MaRS Innovation. “This company began with promising research in Dr. Andrei Yudin’s laboratory at the University of Toronto. With crucial support from many players along the Ontario-Quebec life sciences corridor, MaRS Innovation collaborated with him to package and protect the technology, launch the company and hire experienced management. The success of this funding round bodes well for its future growth and success.”
CQDM and MaRS Innovation investing in new Encycle project to determine rules for making peptide drugs orally bioavailable
PHILADELPHIA (June 16, 2015) — FiercePharma has predicted that the pharmaceutical industry stands to lose $44 billion in drugs going off patent in 2015. The industry is searching for new therapeutics to replenish their pipelines while tackling existing and new drug receptor targets within the cell, improve patient care and lower administrative costs. In this context, drugs that can be orally swallowed, known as orally-bioavailable drugs, are in great demand.
Encycle Therapeutics Inc., a biotechnology company founded by Dr. Andrei Yudin of the University of Toronto in partnership with MaRS Innovation, is a Canadian start-up emerging as a market leader in finding orally-bioavailable molecules. Today, the company announced $840,000 in funding from CQDM and MaRS Innovation to generate a better understanding of the chemical properties required to make small peptide-like molecules, which Encycle calls nacellins, orally bioavailable.
This funding, generated through MaRS Innovation’s strategic partnerships programs with Pfizer Inc. and GSK, and CQDM’s global membership program with Pfizer Inc. and Merck, brings Encycle’s total funding to approximately $4 million, including an earlier investment in 2011 from Ontario Centres of Excellence.
Dr. Diane Gosselin, president and CEO of CQDM, together with Dr. Raphael (Rafi) Hofstein, president and CEO of MaRS Innovation, made the announcement this morning at the 2015 BIO International Convention in the presence of Dr. Reza Moridi, Ontario Minister of Research and Innovation and Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, and Dr. Gaétan Barrette, Quebec Minister of Health and Social Services.
“Encycle’s proprietary cyclized peptides are very different from other types of therapeutics and should enable us to target many of the proteins that are currently regarded as undruggable,” says Dr. Jeffrey Coull, Encycle’s president and CEO. “Our research suggests that, due to their unique properties, it’s easier for our peptides to cross cell membranes than it is for other types, allowing them to be taken orally and access proteins on the inside of a cell. Working on this project together with Pfizer and Merck through CQDM, as well as Pfizer and GSK through MaRS Innovation, we now wish to develop a more precise understanding of the relationship between their structure and composition, and the ability to be delivered orally.”
Company’s collaborative partnership with IRICoR, Université de Montréal and MaRS Innovation, funded by Merck Canada, to advance macrocycle drug
TORONTO and MONTREAL, Nov. 10, 2014 — Encycle Therapeutics Inc., a biotechnology start-up founded by Dr. Andrei Yudin of the University of Toronto in partnership with MaRS Innovation, is developing its lead orally-bioavailable macrocycle drug to target integrin a4b7, which is involved in the inflammatory process in a number of diseases, most notably for inflammatory bowel disease.
Read this release in French.
To support and advance this molecule, Encycle Therapeutics is collaboratively partnering with the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer — Commercialization of Research (IRICoR), the Université de Montréal (UdeM) and MaRS Innovation. The partnership builds on the Merck Canada Inc. $4 million public-private funding partnership, announced at BIO in April 2013, to develop collaborative research projects with three Canadian academic commercialization centres, including MaRS Innovation and IRICoR.
“We are pleased to help support this important research collaboration that is made possible through the Quebec-Ontario corridor project in an emerging technology area. IRICoR, MaRS Innovation and Encycle have clearly leveraged their respective strengths to accelerate the discovery of novel therapeutics. As a research-focused company committed to early stage private-public partnering, we believe that such interactions will continue to fuel innovation in the life science sector in Canada,” said Mr. Chirfi Guindo, president and managing director, Merck Canada Inc.
The agreement brings a significant investment to fund Encycle Therapeutics’ development work, giving IRICoR an equity position and expanding MaRS Innovation’s equity stake. Cumulatively, Encycle Therapeutics has secured more than $2.5 million to advance its drug development platform.
Dr. Raphael (Rafi) Hofstein is president and CEO of MaRS Innovation (MI) – the commercialization agent for an exceptional research discovery pipeline stemming from 16 leading Ontario academic institutions. As a single entry point to annual member research and development activity of $1B, MI provides a gateway for investors and licensees who wish to access Ontario’s technology assets.
During the 2012 BIO convention in Boston, Dr. Hofstein blogged about how CQDM of Montreal and MaRS Innovation of Toronto had teamed up to help “fill” the QC-Ontario corridor and why the corridor is good for business in both provinces.
In my previous blog post during BIO2012, I talked about how MaRS Innovation and CQDM had jointly collaborated to form Encycle Therapeutics, a startup that was created around disruptive technology, developed by Professor Andrei Yudin of the University of Toronto, involving the cyclization of biologically active peptides.
A year later, I’m pleased to report that Encycle is alive and kicking. The company has since recruited seasoned management, and its developing product line is drawing tremendous interest from global pharmaceutical groups. In the next few months, we expect Encycle to raise significant capital and establish meaningful ties with strategic allies.
Taking a wider look at the life sciences sector, this has been a vintage year for Ontario in general and MaRS Innovation’s ecosystem in particular.
Encycle Therapeutics, a MaRS Innovation spin-off company, was included in BioCentury‘s companies to watch within the macrocycle chemistry space.
The reference came in Chris Cain‘s article, “Maturing macrocycle chemistry drives explosion of biotech newcos, biopharma deals.”
Encycle Therapeutics, a MaRS Innovation spin-off company, was featured by Business Without Borders' High Tech section in a Q&A profile with MI's President and CEO, Raphael Hofstein. Here's an excerpt:…
Platform for cyclizing peptides promises to increase efficiency of early-stage drug discovery
BOSTON, June 18, 2012 – Encycle Therapeutics, a MaRS Innovation spin-off company, has created a ground-breaking chemistry platform for cyclizing peptides that promises to increase the efficiency of the early-stage drug discovery process.
Peptides have long been sought after as therapeutics due to their high specificity — they can hit specific cellular targets, especially complex protein-protein interaction targets implicated in cancer, cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders.
CQDM invests $1.5 million in two collaborative projects within the Québec/Ontario Life Sciences Corridor
Toronto, December 6, 2011 — The Québec Consortium for Drug Discovery (CQDM) is pleased to announce $1.5 million in funding for two joint Québec/Ontario research projects in biomedical research.
The news was released today at the conference, Connecting Life Sciences Across the Ontario-Québec Corridor, which was held in Toronto.