New Centre Will Deliver New Treatments for Cancer Patients

Nov 26, 2014
Author: 
Liam Mitchell
Members of the Centre for the Commercialization of Antibodies and Biologics, including Director Dev Sidhu (centre)

The University of Toronto celebrated the creation of the Centre for the Commercialization of Antibodies and Biologics today. The new Centre, which is based at the Terrence Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research (The Donnelly Centre), will deliver new targeted treatments for cancer patients while creating new jobs.

Led by Sachdev (Dev) Sidhu, a Professor in the Donnelly Center and the Department of Molecular Genetics, the Centre is made possible by a $15 million grant from the Networks of Centres of Excellence of Canada, through its Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research program. This is the second such centre to be established at U of T, both of which are housed in Donnelly Centre. The other is the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine, which opened in 2011.

The Centre will bridge the research and discovery occurring in the Toronto Recombinant Antibody Centre (TRAC), a lab established by Sidhu and his collaborators, with the business community to quickly deliver new therapies to fight cancer.

Sidhu and his colleagues in the Donnelly Centre developed a new method that allows quick and precise production of synthetic antibodies. These new antibodies have the potential to provide targeted treatments for different diseases and ailments, including cancer. The process can take less than half the time of conventional, “single molecule” drug development, but production is delicate and difficult to replicate.

“We have a unique technological platform and a strong network of local and international collaborators that have created a pipeline for high-quality antibodies and biologics. But we need to take the next step. This new funding builds on major investments from the Ontario Research Fund and Genome Canada, and will let us quickly realize the clinical and economic potential of our technology,” said Sidhu, who will act as the Centre’s CEO in its first year of operation

They have a trove of more than 4,000 antibodies that target over 600 proteins involved in many diseases.

“The Centre will create an internationally recognized and world class centre for biologics development and commercialization within Canada. It will support startup companies centred on antibody therapeutics, reagents and technology,” said Brenda Andrews, Director of the Donnelly Centre and Charles H. Best Chair of Medical Research in the Faculty of Medicine. “It exists here at the Donnelly Centre because there is nowhere else in Canada that can do this kind of groundbreaking research.”

The new centre will provide the business infrastructure, personnel and intellectual property expertise to help meet the international demand for clinical trials with biologics developed in the Donnelly Centre.

Sidhu and his colleagues expect that with the federal funding, their technology will create at least four new companies and more than ten deals with other companies over the next five years. This year, the group expects to finalize a deal with a major pharmaceutical company to found a $100 million company in Toronto, which will create about 30 jobs.

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