MaRS Innovation’s top 10 portfolio stories for 2014

MaRS Innovation enjoyed an exceptional year in 2014. Our team continues to collaborate with researchers within our membership to help bridge the commercialization gap between their world-leading research and creating successful start-up companies or licenses.

Here are our picks for the top 10 news stories from MaRS Innovation’s portfolio.

Triphase-logo-Web1. Triphase Accelerator Corporation, in which MaRS Innovation is an investor, started the year with a bang by signing a collaboration and option agreement with Celgene Corporation. In October, Triphase initiated a Phase I clinical study to evaluate marizomib in Glioblastoma (GBM) with Celgene, signed an agreement to provide Celgene with an option to acquire a new bi-specific antibody (licensed by Triphase from PharmAbcine) and closed the year by announcing that Triphase’s proteasome inhibitor, marizomib, demonstrates potent synergistic anti-multiple myeloma activity in combination with pomalidomide.

Flybits Corporate Logo2. Flybits Inc., spun out of Ryerson University, announced a $3.75 million Series A financing with Robert Bosch Venture Capital to advance its context-aware mobile experience platform. The company was also named a Red Herring Top 100 North America winner.

XLV Diagnostics Inc. 3. XLV Diagnostics Inc., spun out from Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and the Thunder Bay Regional Research Institute, secured a $3 million Series A investment round with Boston-based Bernard M. Gordon Unitrust. XLV’s product will provide mammography image quality equivalent to top-of-the-line mammography machines currently in use, and will do so at a fraction of the cost of current generation systems. The funding will support continued product development and regulatory approval. (more…)

SciBX covers Encycle’s partnership with IRICoR, MaRS Innovation and Merck

Encycle Therapeutics“The first disclosed grant under Merck & Co. Inc.’s Canadian translational initiative will bolster the ability of macrocycle-based Encycle Therapeutics Inc. to conduct lead optimization of its integrin [a4b7,] inhibitors for inflammatory bowel disease,” writes Michael J. Haas in SciBX’s feature on the partnership, “Merck Encycles through Canada.” The article appears in the publication’s December 4, 2014 issue.

Read the Encycle press release that prompted this article.

The article explores the current grant partnership between Merck, Encycle Therapeutics, MaRS Innovation, the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer–Commercialization of Research (IRICoR), and the Université de Montréal’s Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC), and takes an inside look at the company’s progress to date.

Here’s an excerpt:

Encycle is a spinout from the University of Toronto founded in 2012 to solve the primary challenges of macrocycle drugs–poor cell penetration and low oral availability.

According to Parimal Nathwani, the company was selected by MaRS Innovation and IRICoR (Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer–Commercialization of Research), two of the three agencies originally tasked with disbursement and management of the Merck fund, because it was a good match with IRIC’s competencies. The third agency, The Centre for Drug Research and Development, is not involved in this deal. IRICoR is the commercialization arm of IRIC.

“Encycle has a good chemistry platform and nice early discovery work on its integrin [a4b7,] inhibitor program, which is now at the point where it needs to move through lead optimization,” said Nathwani. “IRIC scientists have strong expertise in medicinal chemistry and have worked with industry on optimization, pharmacokinetics, toxicity and other preclinical studies, so they can provide Encycle with pharma-grade optimization.” (more…)

UTEST announces third cohort of U of T software start-ups

Products range from wearable digital coaches to socially-drive financial investment tools

utestTORONTO (Dec. 2, 2014) — The University of Toronto Early-Stage Technology (UTEST) incubator, co-directed by U of T’s Innovations & Partnerships Office (IPO) and MaRS Innovation, has announced its third cohort of computer science start-up companies.

Betakit covered this announcement. The U of T magazine also featured Syncadian and CEO Hanna Janossy in this recent profile.

The five companies and the diverse sectors they target are (scroll for full company descriptions):

  • FlatFab Inc. — 3D printing (designing 3D objects that print in 2D)
  • ICE3 Power Technologies Inc. — hardware (universal charger for portable devices)
  • Onyx Motion Inc. — wearables (digital coaching)
  • Nvest Inc. — financial investing (socially-driven stock recommendations)
  • Syncadian Inc. — digital health (fatigue management for enterprise clients)

Past graduates include Whirlscape, TrendMD, Crowdmark, eQOL and Granata Decision Systems, among others. (more…)

Triphase announces proteasome inhibitor marizomib demonstrates potent synergistic anti-multiple myeloma activity in combination with pomalidomide

Findings from Preclinical Study Presented at American Society of Hematology 2014 Annual Meeting

Triphase-logo-WebTORONTO AND SAN DIEGO (Dec. 6, 2014) — Triphase Accelerator Corporation, a private drug development company dedicated to advancing novel compounds through Phase II proof-of-concept clinical studies, today announced preclinical study results demonstrating that the combination of its highly differentiated proteasome inhibitor, marizomib, and pomalidomide (Pomalyst®) was synergistic in killing multiple myeloma cells.

MaRS Innovation is an early-stage investor in Triphase. See our web archive for more details.

Combined doses of marizomib and pomalidomide inhibited tumor growth and prolonged survival in disease models of this hematologic cancer. The data were presented December 6, 2014 in a poster session at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) 2014 Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

“New treatment options for patients with relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma are needed as nearly all patients will eventually relapse on currently available therapies,” said Paul G. Richardson, M.D., lead clinical investigator of the marizomib study group and director of clinical research, Jerome Lipper Multiple Myeloma Center, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. “These preclinical results in disease models of multiple myeloma are highly promising as they demonstrate the potent activity of marizomib in combination with pomalidomide and support a clinical trial to increase response, overcome drug resistance, and improve outcomes in patients with relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma.” (more…)

BlueDot, formerly BioDiaspora Inc., secures Series A with Horizons Ventures

Toronto-based commercial arm of BioDiaspora research program tracks global spread of infectious diseases in real-time; fourth MI company to reach Series A

BlueDot logoTORONTO (Dec. 2, 2014) — BlueDot, a Toronto-based social benefit corporation founded by Dr. Kamran Khan, an infectious disease physician and scientist, tracks and predicts the global spread of infectious diseases.

Spun off from St. Michael’s Hospital in partnership with MaRS Innovation (and formerly known as BioDiaspora Inc.), BlueDot, has secured a Series A venture capital funding from Horizons Ventures. Funded by Sir Li Ka-shing, Horizons invests in what they call “game-changing disruptive tech,” and has a proven track record in making early-stage investments (i.e., Facebook, Skype, Waze, Siri and Spotify).

TechVibes and MedCity News covered BlueDot’s Series A announcement, as did PE Hub and BetaKit. Read the BlueDot press release here.

The company is the fourth in MaRS Innovation’s portfolio to reach Series A. MaRS Innovation provided $400,000 in seed funding and worked with BlueDot and St. Michael’s to incorporate the company and develop its initial business strategy, intellectual property protection strategy and go-to-market plan. The Ontario Centres of Excellence also provided $140,000 in commercialization grants that helped BlueDot get off the ground.

BlueDot is the commercial arm of Dr. Khan’s academic research program called BioDiaspora, which was developed at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s. BioDiaspora models how infectious diseases can spread and impact populations globally by analyzing big data such as the annual movements of more than 3 billion travelers on commercial flights; human, animal and insect population data; climate data from satellites; and news reports of disease outbreaks. The program was inspired by the Toronto’s SARS crisis in 2003 and its capabilities scientifically validated in prestigious academic journals such as the Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine.

Visualization of the final destinations of travellers departing countries in West Africa with widespread and intense Ebola virus transmission

Visualization of the final destinations of travelers departing countries in West Africa with widespread and intense Ebola virus transmission. Source: http://bluedot.global/work

During its development, BlueDot’s platform technology was used by numerous international agencies, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and the Public Health Agency of Canada to evaluate emerging infectious disease threats, including those during global mass gatherings such as the Olympics and the hajj. (more…)

UTEST gets a mention in TechVibes piece on Canada’s growing start-up scene

utestTechVibes gave UTEST, an incubator program jointly run by MaRS Innovation and the University of Toronto, a mention in Laura Leslie‘s “Canada’s Startup Communities Shining Brighter Than the California Sun,” published November 24, 2014, which explores the ecosystem-wide supports in place to encourage entrepreneurship in Canada.

Leslie writes:

Silicon Valley may be the first place that comes to mind when you think of tech startups, but when considering resources, financial support, and a welcoming atmosphere, Canada has been steadily putting itself on the map. The startup communities in cities such as Vancouver, Waterloo, Toronto, Calgary and Montreal have proven to be a sought after home for some of the world’s most notable tech  innovations of the last few years.

In a section on university supports, two of MaRS Innovation’s member institutions, the University of Toronto and Ryerson University, are cited for encouraging technology incubation and entrepreneurship:  (more…)

Holland Bloorview’s Anxiety Meter included in Globe and Mail‘s neuroscience feature

Holland Bloorview Kids Rehab“Research labs across Ontario are full of ingenious – and even life-saving – inventions. Unfortunately, many of them never make it to market,” writes Wendy Leung in “These six great neuroscience ideas could make the leap from lab to market” in the November 20, 2014 edition of the Globe and Mail.

MaRS Innovation, which was created to help researchers solve exactly this problem, has a project with Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital that was featured in Leung’s article. Asim Siddiqi founded the anxiety meter app for children with autism.

Siddiqi recently competed in the Ontario Brain Institute’s OBI Entrepreneurs Program, funded in part by the Ontario Centres of Excellence.

Here’s an excerpt:

As much as 80 per cent of children with autism suffer from anxiety, but they often have trouble recognizing and communicating their anxiety states, Siddiqi explains. “Just like we sometimes have difficulty ourselves recognizing when we’re kind of stress-eating and things like that, they have it a little worse than we do.”

Using sensors on the body, Dymaxia’s anxiety meter picks up physiological signals, such as heart rate and skin conductance – or the amount of electric current that passes through sensors on the skin, which increases with stress and body temperature. It then processes those signals and provides feedback of the child’s anxiety state in real time on a mobile phone or tablet. (more…)

UTEST grad TrendMD makes Canadian national media splash

TrendMD_logo copyTrendMD, a medical publishing company that helps doctors, researchers, and professionals in STEM-related fields to find the most relevant content amid an unending sea of daily publications, was recently featured in a Canadian Press article by Adam Miller.

The article was published on CBC.ca, CTV.caWaterloo Record, Sing Tao Daily, World Journal, Surrey Leader, Metro News, Winnipeg Free Press, Brampton Guardian, Ottawa Citizen, 660 News Radio, Canadian Business, Times Colonist, Yahoo News, Soo Today, Lethbridge Herald and YorkRegion.com, among other sources.

Paul Kudlow, CEO and co-founder of TrendMD.

Paul Kudlow, CEO and co-founder of TrendMD.

The company is part of the second UTEST cohort and was founded by Paul Kudlow, a Toronto-based physician-scientist.

The program is co-directed by MaRS Innovation and the University of Toronto.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Everything starts with the information overload problem. Today, there are now over 4,000 new articles that are published per day, and that’s just in biomedicine alone,” says Paul Kudlow, a Toronto-based physician-scientist and founder of TrendMD, a startup financially backed by MaRS Innovation and the Ontario Centres of Excellence.

Kudlow says the amount of published medical research is growing and is spread throughout an estimated 27,000 medical journals, making it nearly impossible to keep up with the latest developments. (more…)

Encycle Therapeutics developing lead molecule to tackle inflammatory bowel disease

Company’s collaborative partnership with IRICoR, Université de Montréal and MaRS Innovation, funded by Merck Canada, to advance macrocycle drug

Encycle IRICoR release

Encycle Therapeutics Inc., a biotechnology start-up founded by the University of Toronto in partnership with MaRS Innovation, is developing its lead orally-bioavailable macrocycle drug to target integrin a4b7, which is involved in the inflammatory process in a number of diseases, most notably for inflammatory bowel disease.

TORONTO and MONTREAL, Nov. 10, 2014 — Encycle Therapeutics Inc., a biotechnology start-up founded by Dr. Andrei Yudin of the University of Toronto in partnership with MaRS Innovation, is developing its lead orally-bioavailable macrocycle drug to target integrin a4b7, which is involved in the inflammatory process in a number of diseases, most notably for inflammatory bowel disease.

This announcement was covered in SciBX, Drug Discovery & Development, PBR, Yonge Street Media, Biotechnology Focus, and Bioworld Today (no public link available).

Read this release in French.

To support and advance this molecule, Encycle Therapeutics is collaboratively partnering with the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer — Commercialization of Research (IRICoR), the Université de Montréal (UdeM) and MaRS Innovation. The partnership builds on the Merck Canada Inc. $4 million public-private funding partnership, announced at BIO in April 2013, to develop collaborative research projects with three Canadian academic commercialization centres, including MaRS Innovation and IRICoR.

“We are pleased to help support this important research collaboration that is made possible through the Quebec-Ontario corridor project in an emerging technology area. IRICoR, MaRS Innovation and Encycle have clearly leveraged their respective strengths to accelerate the discovery of novel therapeutics. As a research-focused company committed to early stage private-public partnering, we believe that such interactions will continue to fuel innovation in the life science sector in Canada,” said Mr. Chirfi Guindo, president and managing director, Merck Canada Inc.

The agreement brings a significant investment to fund Encycle Therapeutics’ development work, giving IRICoR an equity position and expanding MaRS Innovation’s equity stake. Cumulatively, Encycle Therapeutics has secured more than $2.5 million to advance its drug development platform. (more…)

AvidBiologics and National Research Council of Canada to collaborate on antibody-drug conjugates

AvidBiologics Inc.Toronto-based AvidBiologics Inc., a leading Canadian biotech company, and the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) are collaborating on one of the most promising advances in the fight against cancer: antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs).

Recently signed research and licensing agreements will enable both organizations to continue developing a series of ADCs targeting breast, lung, and head-and-neck cancers. Unlike chemotherapy, ADCs specifically seek and destroy cancer cells, with minimal impact on healthy cells.

“The work performed by NRC is crucial to assembling the data package needed for clinical trials,” said Ilia A. Tikhomirov, president and CEO of Avid Biologics, which focuses exclusively on ADCs. “We are privileged to be able to continue the rapid development of our lead candidate while advancing the other candidates in the pipeline in collaboration with the NRC. We thank the NRC and all of our partners for their support as AvidBiologics transitions from a discovery-stage to a development-stage company.” (more…)

Welcome to MaRS Innovation

MaRS Innovation commercializes the most promising research breakthroughs from 15 of Toronto’s top universities, institutions and research institutes. Our portfolio, built through over 1,000 intellectual property disclosures from our member institutions, turns discoveries into businesses through industry partnerships, licensing arrangements and start-up companies.

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