Technology developed by Dr. Stuart Berger at UHN is first project funded through partnership

University Health NetworkTORONTO, Dec. 11, 2013 – MaRS Innovation, a Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research, has announced the first project funded through the Pfizer Inc. and MaRS Innovation strategic partnership.

Dr. Stuart Berger, senior scientist at University Health Network, has developed a potential innovation for the bio-manufacturing sector, which is a rapid-growth area.

This announcement was covered by BetaKit.

His technology generates cell lines with improved protein production and survival properties, important in the industrial production of therapeutic proteins.

Current estimates place the global market for therapeutic proteins at over $100 billion, which is expected to grow at 12 per cent annually.1 In addition to therapeutic proteins, Dr. Berger’s modular technology can potentially be used in other sectors such as reagent manufacturing for clinical diagnostics and laboratory research.

The technology was previously funded through MaRS Innovation’s Proof-of-Principal early-stage research funding program, managed on behalf of the Government of Ontario.

“Dr. Berger’s technology addresses a real market need in bio-manufacturing in that it decreases the high costs associated with protein production,” said Dr. Raphael Hofstein, president and CEO of MaRS Innovation. “This is an excellent example of an innovation emerging from Canadian investment in basic scientific research.”

“MaRS Innovation’s support was critical in getting this technology developed,” added Dr. Berger. “We are delighted that we are now working with Pfizer with the goal of further advancing our technology.”

MaRS Innovation and Pfizer are jointly funding work in Dr. Berger’s lab that will be conducted independently and seeks to further validate the technology. Both parties will also continue to review additional opportunities emerging from well-validated scientific research discoveries within MaRS Innovation’s 16 member institutions, including the University of Toronto and its nine affiliated teaching hospitals.

“Pfizer is pleased to partner on this initiative with MaRS Innovation that brings together the scientific community and industry for the pursuit of knowledge,” said Bernard Prigent, Vice-President and Medical Director, Pfizer Canada Inc. “This research initiative exemplifies the type of partnership collaborations that Pfizer is seeking with its new R&D model.”

About MaRS Innovation
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MaRS Innovation (MI) is the commercialization agent for Ontario’s exceptional discovery pipeline from 16 leading academic institutions. As a single-entry point to $1 billion in annual research and development, MI is a gateway for investors and licensees to access technology assets. Supported by the Government of Canada through the Networks of Centres of Excellence, by the Government of Ontario through the Ontario Centres of Excellence, and by its 16 member institutions, MI is a transformational partnership that turns research strengths into commercial opportunities. Its portfolio includes the most promising assets from its members’ pipeline, which it advances into global markets through industry partnerships, licensing and company creation. For more information, see http://www.marsinnovation.com.

By Elizabeth Monier-Williams, marketing and communications manager.

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1 According to BCC Market Research Forecasting’s 2011 “Biologic Therapeutic Drugs: Technologies and Global Markets” report, markets for monoclonal ab and therapeutic proteins added up to $109 billion in 2009 and are growing at a compound annual growth rate of between 8.4 to 12.4 per cent.