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.”