Media Releases

Canadian collaboration to accelerate development of cancer treatments

March 20, 2017

NRC and CCAB invest over $1M to advance innovative therapies first discovered at UofT

Toron­to, ON – An inno­v­a­tive col­lab­o­ra­tion between gov­ern­ment, indus­try, and acad­e­mia aims to accel­er­ate the devel­op­ment of can­cer treat­ments in Cana­da. The Nation­al Research Coun­cil of Cana­da (NRC) and the Toron­to-based Cen­tre for the Com­mer­cial­iza­tion of Anti­bod­ies and Bio­log­ics (CCAB) have put in place over $1M in col­lab­o­ra­tive agree­ments over the past year to pro­duce and test ther­a­peu­tic anti­bod­ies dis­cov­ered at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to (U of T).

Can­cer treat­ment is evolv­ing rapid­ly toward more effec­tive mol­e­cules, includ­ing sin­gle-domain and bi-spe­cif­ic anti­bod­ies, anti­body-drug con­ju­gates, and immunother­a­py. These med­i­cines, also called bio­log­ics, are able to specif­i­cal­ly tar­get can­cer cells and in some cas­es, recruit the body’s immune sys­tem to help destroy them.

CCAB is a busi­ness devel­op­ment and com­mer­cial­iza­tion engine whose mis­sion is to trans­late UofT’s large port­fo­lio of ear­ly stage bio­log­ics into high-val­ue assets and prod­ucts. To this pur­pose, CCAB has part­nered with NRC to bio­man­u­fac­ture and test hun­dreds of anti­bod­ies.

The col­lab­o­ra­tion con­tin­ues to grow and now lever­ages NRC’s three pro­grams in Human Health Ther­a­peu­tics:

  • Bio­log­ics and Bio­man­u­fac­tur­ing: pro­duc­ing bio­log­ics, test­ing their abil­i­ty to fight sol­id tumours, and deter­min­ing their bio­man­u­fac­tura­bil­i­ty;
  • Ther­a­peu­tics Beyond Brain Bar­ri­ers: deter­min­ing if spe­cif­ic anti­bod­ies are able to cross the blood-brain bar­ri­er, tar­get and fight brain can­cer;
  • Vac­cines and Immunother­a­peu­tics: deter­min­ing if spe­cif­ic anti­bod­ies are able to mod­u­late the immune sys­tem so that it finds and destroys can­cer cells.

The goal of the col­lab­o­ra­tion is to iden­ti­fy the most promis­ing anti­bod­ies, and increase their val­ue by gen­er­at­ing data that effec­tive­ly de-risks each asset. CCAB’s objec­tive is to then licence lead anti­body can­di­dates to seed new­ly formed Cana­di­an biotech­nol­o­gy com­pa­nies.  These new Cana­di­an start-ups will, in turn, advance these mol­e­cules toward clin­i­cal tri­als in patients.  With sev­er­al biotech­nol­o­gy com­pa­nies already par­tic­i­pat­ing and ben­e­fit­ting from these pro­grams, the col­lab­o­ra­tion between CCAB and NRC is clear­ly set to cat­alyze the country’s biotech sec­tor and gen­er­ate promis­ing new can­cer treat­ments for Cana­di­ans.


“Har­ness­ing the inven­tive pow­er of our top Cana­di­an sci­en­tists and trans­lat­ing dis­cov­er­ies into prod­ucts that ben­e­fit Cana­di­ans is a pri­or­i­ty for the CCAB.  We are excit­ed about our col­lab­o­ra­tion with the NRC and the com­mer­cial val­ue it cre­ates for the Cana­di­an biotech­nol­o­gy indus­try.”

Ivan Waiss­bluth, Direc­tor of Busi­ness Devel­op­ment, Cen­tre for the Com­mer­cial­iza­tion of Anti­bod­ies and Bio­log­ics

“It is very grat­i­fy­ing to deploy NRC’s bio­log­ics exper­tise, which is over 20 years in the mak­ing, to projects that may rev­o­lu­tion­ize the treat­ment of can­cer. We are thrilled to be work­ing with the Cen­tre for the Com­mer­cial­iza­tion of Anti­bod­ies and Bio­log­ics on accel­er­at­ing the devel­op­ment of inno­v­a­tive med­i­cines, to improve health out­comes for Cana­di­ans.”

Roman Szum­s­ki, Vice-pres­i­dent of Life Sci­ences, NRC

“The Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to is proud to see the impact that CCAB is hav­ing in dri­ving anti­body devel­op­ment in Cana­da. Bridg­ing the strengths of our dis­cov­ery plat­form, the Toron­to Recom­bi­nant Anti­body Cen­tre (TRAC), to the estab­lished capa­bil­i­ties at the NRC is a key fac­tor in advanc­ing ther­a­peu­tics.  Today’s announce­ment shows promise of a grow­ing part­ner­ship and U of T is look­ing for­ward to see­ing the suc­cess­es that arise from it.”

Vivek Goel, Vice-Pres­i­dent Research and Inno­va­tion, Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to

Addi­tion­al Links


Media Rela­tions Team
Nation­al Research Coun­cil of Cana­da
1–855-282‑1637 (24/7)
Twit­ter: @nrc_cnrc

Chris­tine Mis­quit­ta
Vice Pres­i­dent — Admin­is­tra­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions
Cen­tre for the Com­mer­cial­iza­tion of Anti­bod­ies and Bio­log­ics
Twit­ter: @CCABcan and @TRACantibodies

Media Rela­tions
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to