Media Releases

Northern Biologics to develop antibody therapeutics in Toronto

December 11, 2014

Collaboration between Versant Ventures and leading Canadian research institutes spawns new biotech company

TORONTO, ON — A col­lab­o­ra­tion of Toron­to-area aca­d­e­m­ic and indus­try part­ners, includ­ing the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to (U of T), Cana­di­an biotech­nol­o­gy incu­ba­tor Blue­line Bio­science (Blue­line), and Uni­ver­si­ty Health Net­work’s Princess Mar­garet Can­cer Cen­tre (UHN), has announced the cre­ation of a com­pa­ny that could change biotech­nol­o­gy devel­op­ment in Cana­da.

Based in Toron­to’s Dis­cov­ery Dis­trict and backed by ven­ture cap­i­tal firm Ver­sant Ven­tures,  Blue­line formed North­ern Bio­log­ics with the oth­er orga­ni­za­tions ear­li­er this year.

North­ern Bio­log­ics has in-licensed intel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty from both U of T and UHN includ­ing drug leads and a nov­el anti­body gen­er­a­tion plat­form and will focus on advanc­ing a port­fo­lio of anti­body-based ther­a­peu­tics for both oncol­o­gy and fibro­sis.

Anti­bod­ies are the fastest-grow­ing area of ther­a­peu­tics and rep­re­sent many of the biggest block­buster drugs on the mar­ket today. “Anti­bod­ies and oth­er med­ical prod­ucts from bio­log­i­cal sources play an expand­ing, rev­o­lu­tion­ary role as alter­na­tives to small mol­e­cule drugs by treat­ing dis­ease in a more tar­get­ed way and reduc­ing side effects,” said Peter Lewis, inter­im vice-pres­i­dent of research and inno­va­tion at U of T. “North­ern Bio­log­ics is a prime exam­ple of the way in which cross-col­lab­o­ra­tion works to advance and ulti­mate­ly com­mer­cial­ize the inno­v­a­tive sci­ence that is hap­pen­ing in Cana­di­an lab­o­ra­to­ries.”

The two most sig­nif­i­cant pri­or­i­ties for North­ern Bio­log­ics over the next one to two years will be recruit­ment of its sci­en­tif­ic team and rapid advance­ment of its first drug can­di­dates in prepa­ra­tion for human clin­i­cal tri­als.  The com­pa­ny is already in active recruit­ment and expects to have a team of at least 20 peo­ple in place by the end of 2015.

“The more peo­ple we can have work­ing on tar­get­ed ther­a­pies, the more quick­ly we will be able to have a sig­nif­i­cant impact on patient out­comes,” not­ed Christo­pher Paige, vice-pres­i­dent of research at UHN. “Patients expect us to be work­ing in part­ner­ship, and North­ern Bio­log­ics is a prime exam­ple of col­lab­o­ra­tive suc­cess.”


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