Canada is a biotech powerhouse, consistently at the forefront of change with a strong engine of innovation. This country has a knowledge-rich talent pool and is a destination for investment capital.
Biotechnology Focus, with the help several investorsi, has narrowed down the top 5 private venture capital financings in the country within the last couple of years. All these private venture capital companies represent extraordinary advancements in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical space, whose cutting-edge technology has the potential to provide treatment – or even cure – some of the world’s most challenging conditions and diseases.
Listed from the highest grossing financing to the fifth highest overall, Biotechnology Focus would like to extend their congratulations to the companies for not only a job well done and well deserved, but for building a stronger innovation ecosystem that ultimately, will help Canadians and the world across the board.
#1 – Repare Therapeutics
Repare Therapeutics takes the cake as the leading private venture capital financing in the last couple of years, taking home a whopping US$68-million in their series A financing round June 22nd, 2017. That money will be used to advance its platform and pipeline of novel medicines that target genetically defined weaknesses of cancers.
The company is developing new, precision oncology drugs for patients that target specific vulnerabilities of tumour cells. Its approach integrates insights from several fields of cell biology including DNA repair and synthetic lethality. Repare’s platform combines a proprietary, high throughput, CRISPR‐enabled gene editing target discovery method with high‐resolution protein crystallography, computational biology and clinical informatics.
With this financing, Repare emerged from Versant’s Discovery Engines after an 18-month stealth period during which the company advanced its leading CRISPR-enabled synthetic lethality drug discovery platform, identified several promising oncology targets and moved multiple programs into preclinical development.
#2 – Milestone Pharmaceuticals
Runner up was Milestone Pharmaceuticals Inc. pulling a close second on August 1st, 2017. The clinical stage cardiovascular company closed their Series C financing round at US$55-million. The round was led by Novo Holdings A/S and included new investors Forbion Capital Partners and funds managed by Tekla Capital Management, with significant participation from Milestone’s existing investors Domain Associates, Fonds de solidarité FTQ, BDC Capital, Pappas Capital, and GO Capital.
Milestone Pharmaceuticals is a private venture capital-funded cardiovascular drug development company developing new small molecule therapeutics for transient cardiovascular conditions. The company’s lead product, etripamil (MSP-2017), is entering its Phase 3 of development. Etripamil is a potent and short-acting nasally-delivered calcium channel antagonist in development for the episodic treatment of paroxysmal supraventricular tachycardia (PSVT).
The funding will be used to advance etripamil, the company’s lead product, into Phase 3 development including the execution of pivotal and supportive clinical trials, the production of clinical and commercial supplies and pre-launch commercialization activities. The funding will also be used to expand the company’s resources including select additional headcount and advisory support in strategic areas including Marketing and Medical Affairs.
#3 – Fusion Pharmaceuticals
Taking third place is Fusion Pharmaceuticals September 25th, 2017 when closing their second Series A financing, for a combined total of US$46-million. New investors in the second closing include Adams Street Partners, Seroba Life Sciences, and Varian Medical Systems Inc., who join the existing group of international investors, FACIT, Genesys Capital, HealthCap, Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC Inc., and TPG Biotech.
Fusion is a clinical stage company and spinout of the Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization (CPDC) focused on developing novel targeted alpha therapeutics for the treatment of chemotherapy resistant cancers. Their first product, FPX-01, combines the precise targeting of a human experienced antibody with Fusion’s linker technology and the alpha emitting cytotoxic isotope Actinium-225 to induce cancer cell death.
FPX-01 is an antibody-targeted radiotherapy, which seeks out a specific biomarker of resistance that is present on nearly all types of treatment refractory cancers. The technology is designed to selectively deliver actinium-225 to tumour cells so that in conjunction with internalisation, the alpha particles emitted will eradicate diseased tissue.
#4 – AbCellera Biologics
Coming up as a strong fourth is AbCellera Biologics, a cutting-edge company with leading technology for screening and mapping of natural immune responses. They test antibodies from single B cells at depths of millions of cells per day to unleash the power of natural immunity in the next generation of antibody therapies.
AbCellera Biologics Inc. was awarded a contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop rapid countermeasures against viral outbreaks March 13th, 2018. Over the four-year contract, AbCellera will receive up to US$30-million in funding to establish an end-to-end platform for rapid pandemic response and will lead an internationally recognized team of experts in virology, antibody discovery, and gene therapy.
The project is part of the Pandemic Prevention Platform (P3), an imperative initiative of DARPA’s Biological Technology Office. The P3 program seeks to develop a robust technology platform for pandemic response capable of developing field-ready medical countermeasures within 60 days of isolation of a viral pathogen. AbCellera’s platform development and testing will include the discovery of thousands of human antibodies against a wide array of influenza strains and validation using a variety of other critical viral pathogens.
#5 – Fortuna Fix
Just trailing fourth, Fortuna Fix finds themselves in the fifth spot. Backed by Amgen Ventures, Fortuna Fix secured US$25-million in funding to push its autologous stem cell treatments for Parkinson’s disease and spinal cord injuries into the clinic on November 8th, 2017.
Jan-Eric Ahlfors, CEO and CSO of Fortuna Fix, said in a press statement: “With Fortuna’s technology platform, there finally exists a tremendous opportunity to deliver autologous produced by direct programming (drNPCs) that can readily replace lost neurons, do not require immune suppression, are ethically sourced, efficacious and address some of the largest unmet medical needs by fixing the underlying pathology of cell loss to enable restoration of functionality in patients.”
Fortuna Fix is a next-generation regenerative medicine company focused on neuronal repair and regeneration. Their vision is to establish regenerative medicine as a new paradigm of health care, bringing real solutions to conditions that cannot be cured by current therapeutic modalities. Fortuna has its eyes set on being the first company to enter the clinic using a patient’s own neural stem cells produced by direct reprogramming to replace lost neuronal tissue due to neurodegeneration and neurotrauma.
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