Our portfolio company, Encycle Therapeutics, has been acquired by Danish Zealand Pharma. The transaction strengthens the leadership of Zealand Pharma (NASDAQ: ZEAL) in peptide therapeutics and in targeting gastrointestinal diseases with…
TORONTO, November 1, 2017 – Encycle Therapeutics (“Encycle”), a Toronto-based drug discovery company built on a unique chemistry that enables the synthesis of a new type of constrained peptide called…
MaRS Innovation was highlighted in the Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) newsletter on Wednesday, June 22. The article is titled, "MaRS Innovation revolutionizes approach to commercialization, " and discusses…
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…
Applications for next MSc PoP granting round being accepted until February 25, 2016 TORONTO (January 26, 2016) — Nine Ontario-based medical research projects built on great science with potential for…
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.”
Biotechnology Focus, a compendium of the Canadian life sciences industry, has published a guest column by Dr. Raphael Hofstein, MaRS Innovation’s president & CEO, and Elizabeth Monier-Williams, director of marketing and communications.
The article explores the way research focused on discovery and commercialization are often viewed or positioned as competitors within the funding ecosystem and the need to align their goals:
The time of Canada’s French and English solitudes may be past, as Governor General Michaëlle Jean notably stated when she took office in 2005, but the solitudes of thought concerning how Canada supports basic and commercial research persist.
This thinking is most easily spotted after the government announces a federal budget, triggering a flurry of opinion pieces debating the breakdown for the $2.7 billion Canada spends on research.
Most recently, Jim Balsillie, co-founder of Research in Motion (now BlackBerry Ltd.), wrote for the Globe & Mail about the Canadian need to understand that “geopolitics is at the heart of commercializing ideas,” and create better policies to protect Canadian ideas, including “better
incentives for researchers to spur commercialization,” such as during an academic’s consideration for tenure. Yet, like any business endeavor whose success depends on people, there’s more involved in changing Canada’s approach to commercialization than just policy.
The people must want to change, too.
MaRS Innovation enjoyed an exceptional year in 2014. Our team continues to collaborate with researchers within our membership to help bridge the commercialization gap between their world-leading research and creating successful start-up companies or licenses.
Here are our picks for the top 10 news stories from MaRS Innovation’s portfolio.
1. Triphase Accelerator Corporation, in which MaRS Innovation is an investor, started the year with a bang by signing a collaboration and option agreement with Celgene Corporation. In October, Triphase initiated a Phase I clinical study to evaluate marizomib in Glioblastoma (GBM) with Celgene, signed an agreement to provide Celgene with an option to acquire a new bi-specific antibody (licensed by Triphase from PharmAbcine) and closed the year by announcing that Triphase’s proteasome inhibitor, marizomib, demonstrates potent synergistic anti-multiple myeloma activity in combination with pomalidomide.
2. Flybits Inc., spun out of Ryerson University, announced a $3.75 million Series A financing with Robert Bosch Venture Capital to advance its context-aware mobile experience platform. The company was also named a Red Herring Top 100 North America winner.
3. XLV Diagnostics Inc., spun out from Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and the Thunder Bay Regional Research Institute, secured a $3 million Series A investment round with Boston-based Bernard M. Gordon Unitrust. XLV’s product will provide mammography image quality equivalent to top-of-the-line mammography machines currently in use, and will do so at a fraction of the cost of current generation systems. The funding will support continued product development and regulatory approval.
“The first disclosed grant under Merck & Co. Inc.’s Canadian translational initiative will bolster the ability of macrocycle-based Encycle Therapeutics Inc. to conduct lead optimization of its integrin [a4b7,] inhibitors for inflammatory bowel disease,” writes Michael J. Haas in SciBX’s feature on the partnership, “Merck Encycles through Canada.” The article appears in the publication’s December 4, 2014 issue.
Read the Encycle press release that prompted this article.
The article explores the current grant partnership between Merck, Encycle Therapeutics, MaRS Innovation, the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer–Commercialization of Research (IRICoR), and the Université de Montréal’s Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC), and takes an inside look at the company’s progress to date.
Here’s an excerpt:
Encycle is a spinout from the University of Toronto founded in 2012 to solve the primary challenges of macrocycle drugs–poor cell penetration and low oral availability.
According to Parimal Nathwani, the company was selected by MaRS Innovation and IRICoR (Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer–Commercialization of Research), two of the three agencies originally tasked with disbursement and management of the Merck fund, because it was a good match with IRIC’s competencies. The third agency, The Centre for Drug Research and Development, is not involved in this deal. IRICoR is the commercialization arm of IRIC.
“Encycle has a good chemistry platform and nice early discovery work on its integrin [a4b7,] inhibitor program, which is now at the point where it needs to move through lead optimization,” said Nathwani. “IRIC scientists have strong expertise in medicinal chemistry and have worked with industry on optimization, pharmacokinetics, toxicity and other preclinical studies, so they can provide Encycle with pharma-grade optimization.”