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Northern Biologics Inc., an early-stage biologics company founded by five researchers at University Health Network and University of Toronto, will receive US$30 million upfront as part of a strategic collaboration with Celgene Corporation announced April 29.
The funds will be used to discover and develop first-in-class therapeutic antibodies for cancer and fibrosis.
"Celgene's investment will accelerate the development of targeted biologics for personalized cancer medicine," says Dr. Bradly Wouters, a founding partner who specializes in the tumour microenvironment, and Interim Director of Research, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, UHN.
"This support reflects both the commercialization opportunities that derive from direct investments in basic research as well as the synergy within the founding team of scientists," he says on behalf of the group.
The three founders affiliated with the cancer centre (Drs. Benjamin Neel, Brad Wouters and Robert Rottapel) have deep expertise in cancer biology and understand what's needed to evaluate targeted biologics as they proceed toward human trials.
This expertise complements the technological expertise in creation of targeted biologics from the two founders from the University of Toronto (Drs. Sachdev Sidhu and Jason Moffat).
Under the agreement, Northern Biologics will advance its work in the development of therapeutic antibodies in oncology and fibrosis from preclinical discovery through human clinical trials. Celgene will have options to in-license drug candidates and will also have the right to acquire Northern Biologics upon conclusion of the collaboration.
Northern Biologics was launched in June 2014 by Blueline Bioscience, a Canadian biotechnology incubator backed by venture capital firm Versant Ventures, in partnership with the University of Toronto and University Health Network's Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. Versant committed a US$10 million Series A financing round to Northern Biologics in October 2014.