Canada’s national drug development and commercialization center, The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD), signed a research agreement with virtual cancer drug company Novelogics Biotechnology, through which it will use custom assays to help characterize and validate Novelogics’ anticancer immunotherapeutic platform and select an initial preclinical monoclonal antibody candidate.

Vancouver-based Novelogics’ monoclonal antibody platform aims to target soluble decoy proteins that promote cancer-related immune suppression. The approach is designed to stimulate the body’s immune system to fight a broad range of cancers, without side effects, and could potentially be used in combination with other frontline therapies.

Novelogics said the technology has demonstrated early evidence of tumor inhibition in a prostate cancer model, and the hope is that work with CDRD might expand this to other cancer models. The firm projects progressing a candidate into early clinical development by 2019.

“Unlike other immunotherapies that function by modulating, inhibiting, or blocking targets, our innovative drug works by intercepting,” explained Novelogics president and  CSO Wayne Cheney, Ph.D. “This is a new way of limiting the immune suppressive effects of the drug target, which offers a huge opportunity to make a difference in the fight against cancer.”

Ismael Samudio, Ph.D., head of biologics at CDRD, added, “This work with Novelogics is an exciting opportunity for CDRD to apply our scientific expertise in natural killer (NK) cell biology and therapeutic antibodies to a technology that has very promising preclinical potential. This a great example of how CDRD is partnering with Canadian life sciences companies to advance promising discoveries and transform them into validated investments and improved health outcomes.”

Based in Vancouver, CDRD provides the scientific expertise and research infrastructure to help academic institutions and Canadian small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) develop early-stage drug candidates and technologies into viable product candidates and promising investment opportunities. In February, CDRD and Toronto-based Cyclica agreed to carry out a pilot study using the latter’s Ligand Express™ drug discovery informatics platform to identify drug targets for a specified neurodegenerative disease.

During March, CDRD, the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital at McGill University, and Merck set up the NeuroCDRD initiative to develop a human-induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) screening platform to help model neurological diseases. Also in March, CDRD joined the newly established Regenerative Medicine Alliance of Canada (RMAC), which aims to support collaborative and strategic research in the regenerative medicine field.

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