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Ontario Institute for Cancer Research Announces Spin Off Companies Developing Promising Anticancer Technologies
Date:5/19/2011

TORONTO, May 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) today announced investments in three new Ontario companies aimed at bringing promising anticancer technologies to market.

"The establishment of these innovative companies will help bring commercial and operational leadership that will accelerate the development and market acceptance of their promising assets," said Frank Stonebanks, Vice-President, Commercialization and Chief Commercial Officer of OICR. "With early translational research, seed capital and professional management, OICR is committed to supporting the most promising new approaches to fighting cancer."

"The anticancer technologies developed by these companies offer hope for improved health outcomes for people in Ontario and around the world who are fighting cancer," said Glen Murray, Ontario Minister of Research and Innovation. "These three companies represent the best in Ontario innovation and are creating high-quality jobs with world-class researchers in this province."

Following extensive due diligence review by OICR, investments have been made in the following companies as their technologies have the potential to be best in class and advance OICR's commitment to the prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. They include the following:

  • TORCell Therapeutics Inc., Developing a Novel Cellular Immunotherapy for Cancer

TORCell was created by OICR and the University Health Network (UHN) to undertake clinical development of a proprietary, immunotherapy for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a form of cancer with a very poor prognosis and limited treatment options. The technology involves using a sub-population of the patient's own cancer-killing T cells whose potential in treating AML has been pioneered by Dr. Li Zhang, Senior Scientist in the Division of Cellular and Molecular Biology at the UHN's Toronto General Research Institute. Named Double Negative T-cells (DNT cells), these extremely rare cells have been shown in animal testing to kill leukemia cells and have undergone extensive pre-clinical testing. By utilizing the patient's own DNT cells the risk of rejection or an adverse reaction is minimized. Funds from OICR will be used to prepare the technology for a first-in-human clinical trial which is expected to commence in early 2012.

  • DLVR Therapeutics Inc., Developing a Nanoparticle Delivery System for Anticancer Therapies

DLVR Therapeutics Inc., a company created by OICR and the University Health Network, is developing a novel nanocarrier delivery and targeting technology that may enable the delivery of toxic chemotherapeutics and siRNA to cancer cells more safely and with greater therapeutic impact.  The DLVR technology – which is nontoxic, biocompatible and biodegradable -- has the potential to reduce side effects for cancer patients.

Invented in the laboratory of Dr. Gang Zheng of the University Health Network in Toronto, proof of concept has been demonstrated in animal models of cancer. Additional development will be performed with proceeds from OICR's investment to accelerate development of the new nanocarrier for the treatment of cancer.

  • Harmonic Medical, Inc. Developing a Patented Ultrasound Therapy

Harmonic Medical is perfecting a novel tumour treatment system, invented by scientists at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and Brigham and Women's Hospital, led by Kullervo Hynynen. Harmonic Medical uses ultrasound to precisely target and destroy cancer sites deep within the body. Novel harmonic imaging is used to provide feedback to ensure that tumours are destroyed while sparing healthy tissue. Proceeds from OICR's investment will be used to complete prototype validation and prepare the technology to move into clinical trials.

Image-guided focused ultrasound surgery (FUS)allows energy to be focused deep in the body to noninvasively destroy diseased tissue. It is used to ablate tumors with fewer side effects and complications than surgery.

OICR had previously provided seed funding to these exciting, Ontario-based technologies through its Intellectual Property Development and Commercialization (IPDC) Program, now known as the IPDC Fund, which provides funding and translation expertise for exceptional academic projects that have the potential to transform patient care in cancer and become commercial products. More information on the IPDC Fund, as well as how to apply may be found at: http://www.oicr.on.ca/Commercialization/IPDC/index.htm

For inquiries concerning licensing these technologies, please contact OICR via email at: commercialization@oicr.on.ca.

About OICR

OICR, based in Ontario, Canada, is an innovative cancer research and development institute dedicated to prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The Institute is an independent, not-for-profit corporation funded by the Government of Ontario. OICR supports more than 1,400 investigators, clinician scientists, research staff and trainees located at its headquarters and in research institutes and academia across the Province of Ontario. It has key research efforts underway in small molecules, biologics, stem cells, imaging, genomics, informatics and bio-computing, from early stage research to Phase I clinical trials.

For more information, please visit the website at www.oicr.on.ca/commercialization.


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SOURCE Ontario Institute for Cancer Research
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