Tech Transfer eNews Blog

Ontario researchers land major investment for groundbreaking leukemia treatment

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: February 6th, 2019

Researchers at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) have developed a groundbreaking treatment for leukemia, attracting an investment that could exceed $1 billion.

The investment from Celgene Corporation may represent the largest transaction to date for a preclinical asset discovered in Canada. It will allow the researchers to conduct clinical trials in Ontario and to further develop the treatment, which disrupts MLL-WDR5, a protein-protein interaction that plays an important role in promoting the development of leukemia.

OICR has received support in the commercialization of the treatment from FACIT, an Ontario-based company that serves to bridge the gap between the public and private sectors to advance new cancer research.

After researchers at the University of Toronto first discovered the MLL/WDR5 connection, they shared the compound with academic investigators in Ontario and around the world, who showed the probe could stop the growth of leukemia and other cancer cells.
Once the probe was in the public domain, the OICR Drug Development group improved the drug-like properties and potency of the probe, while creating novel intellectual property. The development of the pre-clinical drug by OICR DD was made possible by their extensive experience in the pharmaceutical industry and academia, a unique model that has helped to develop assets that are solid candidates for investment and further development by industry partners. OICR DD is one of the only industry-academic hybrid drug discovery teams in Ontario.

“The progress of this pre-clinical drug towards the clinic is an example of how OICR, working with its partners, is accelerating cancer research in Ontario and increasing investment so that new innovations can help patients as soon as possible,” says Laszlo Radvanyi, president and scientific director of OICR. “Today’s announcement shows how OICR and FACIT’s unique model for research and commercialization can generate long-term impact for the province of Ontario.”

Source: GlobeNewswire

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