Ontario is home to a thriving biotechnology sector, with an abundance of top institutions, researchers, developers and manufacturers. The province is a cornerstone in the research areas of cancer, neuroscience, stem cells, gene therapy and clinical trials. Some of the most promising biotechnology companies are located within the province. Here are just a handful of the ones to watch this year.
BlueRock Therapeutics is dedicated to engineering cell therapies to help remedy several intractable diseases. Established in 2016 and acquired by Bayer in 2019, BlueRock’s proprietary cell+gene platform delivers cell therapies for three therapeutic areas: neurology, cardiology and immunology. Specifically, BlueRock Therapeutics has made immense advancements to treat Parkinson’s disease, heart failure and autoimmune disorders.
From molecule to medicine, Cyclica embraces the complexity of disease. With deep roots in the industry, a first-in-class platform, and an innovative decentralized partnership model, Cyclica is creating medicines with greater precision for unmet patient needs. Their work spans dozens of collaborations with large pharma and biotech as well as several joint ventures. Cyclica is a passionate team of biotech and pharma professionals, biologists, chemists, and computer scientists who live and labour at the intersection of their collective expertise.
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Deep Genomics is pioneering the use of AI and machine learning to mine the human genome for information on how diseases occur and to program therapies to treat them. Their proprietary AI Workbench decodes vast amounts of data on RNA biology, pinpoints novel targets of genetically defined diseases and produces high-quality therapeutic programs to treat them. Deep Genomics is currently working on AI Workbench 3.0 to research more complex genetic diseases.
Evolve Biologics is striving to revolutionize the process of protein extraction from blood plasma. Their next-generation proprietary PlasmaCap EBA® technology aims to deliver plasma-derived therapeutics to effectively meet the growing demand for these life-saving products from people with rare diseases worldwide. Currently, the company is in the process of commercializing an innovative portfolio of product candidates, including intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) and human serum albumin (HSA), both of which are in advanced stages of regulatory approval in the U.S. and Canada.
Fusion Pharmaceuticals is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company. They are devoted to developing next-generation radiopharmaceuticals as precision medicines for cancer. Their Targeted Alpha Therapies (TAT) platform, coupled with their proprietary Fast-Clear linker technology, allows Fusion Pharmaceuticals to connect alpha particle emitting isotopes to antibodies and other targeting molecules, concentrating the killing power of the radiation within the tumour. Started in 2017 by McMaster University’s Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization (CPDC), Fusion Pharmaceuticals debuted on Nasdaq in 2020 with an IPO of US$212.5 million.
Launched in 2018, Notch Therapeutics participated in CCRM’s internal company incubation process. The company combines a decade’s worth of research from Dr. Juan Carlos Zúñiga-Pflücker at Sunnybrook Research Institute and Dr. Peter Zandstra at the University of Toronto to develop immunotherapies derived from stem cells. Their proprietary Notch Engineered Thymic Niche (ETN) platform streamlines manufacturing and has the potential to generate T cells and other immune cells from renewable stem cell lines without the use of a patient’s immune cells. Notch recently closed US$85 million in Series A financing to develop their pipeline of renewable stem cell-derived cancer immunotherapies.
Octane Biotech is one of the many innovative ventures from the Canadian bioengineering company, Octane Medical Group, a medical technology company with the most advanced bioprocesses, biomaterials and bioreactors for regenerative medicine. Launched in 2007, Octane Biotech built Cocoon, an automated production system for personalized, patient-scale cell therapies. In 2018, Lonza Group, a Swiss multinational biotech company, acquired a controlling stake in Octane Biotech to broaden Cocoon’s clinical application on a global scale. Recently, the company reached a significant milestone: Cocoon’s first clinical use in immunotherapy treatment. This milestone underscores an ever-growing interest in Cocoon to deliver cutting-edge cell therapies for a multitude of diseases.
Resilience Biotechnologies is the Canadian subsidiary of National Resilience, a San Diego and Boston-based company creating a first-of-its-kind ecosystem for advanced biopharmaceutical manufacturing. Resilience specializes in developing and manufacturing complex and novel medicines, including cell and gene therapies, viral vectors, vaccines, proteins and new discoveries. In May 2021, the Government of Canada announced an investment of C$199.16 million in Resilience Biotechnologies to modernize and expand the company’s site. This investment increases domestic biomanufacturing capacity in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Turnstone Biologics is a clinical-stage biotech company developing breakthrough cancer immunotherapies by advancing two novel and complementary platforms, a vaccinia virus platform and a tumour-infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) therapy platform, that drive innate and adaptive tumour immunity to provide benefit to the millions of cancer patients underserved by current treatment options. Since its inception in 2015, Turnstone has raised more than $280 million in venture capital and non-dilutive financing from top-tier life science and biotech investors and secured partnerships with major biopharmaceutical companies, including a billion-dollar deal with Takeda.