Earlier this month, 43 of the most promising companies in the Canadian health science industry came together at the OBIO Niagara Investment Summit, where they showcased their innovations to over 40 investors from across North America and Japan to pave the path to the investments needed to fully commercialize products.
Innovations featured new technologies and therapies in medical devices, diagnostics, clinical decision support, digital health, and therapeutic treatments, covering areas ranging from cancer, mental illness, diabetes, bone fractures, Alzheimer’s disease and more.
Some breakthrough companies who presented included Lumira portfolio company, KisoJi Biotechnology, a Montreal-based company with ties to the University of Health Network in Toronto. KisoJi is working to develop next-generation antibodies with unique anti-cancer mechanisms that have the ability to treat a wide range of cancers. The company came back again in 2020 for its third year at the summit.
“The Summit was a great way to expose our company to specialized industry investors. It provided the opportunity to push forward to the next step with clinical trials, while maintaining close relationships with attendees – something that is difficult to do at larger conferences.”
– Dr. David Young, Founder & CEO, KisoJi Biotechnology
Dr. Young was previously the CEO of Arius Research before being sold to Roche, the world’s largest biotechnology company. From there, Young took his learnings and created KisoJi, pioneering an entirely novel class of antibodies that targets multiple components in difficult to treat cancers, unlike previous antibodies that can only target one thing at a time. Clinical trials of the technology are planned for 2021.
Lumira Portfolio Notch Therapeutics also attended. Notch is an immune cell therapy company developing a next-generation pipeline of off-the-shelf, universally compatible, genetically tailored T cell therapeutics derived from renewable stem cell sources for the treatment of high impact diseases, with an initial focus on cancer.
At the core of Notch’s technology, the proprietary Engineered Thymic Niche (ETN) platform enables the expansion and differentiation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) in a fully defined, feeder-free, and serum-free cultures into mature T cells and other types of immune cells that can be scaled up to create cell banks for thousands of patients. A key feature of the technology is that the immune cells can be uniformly gene-edited at the stem cell stage for any immune cell-based therapeutic application, including CARs, CRISPR and synthetic biology.
The Notch ETN technology was invented by Juan-Carlos Zúñiga-Pflücker, PhD at Sunnybrook Research Institute and Peter Zandstra, PhD, FRSC at the University of Toronto. In November 2019, Notch entered into a collaboration and license agreement with Allogene Therapeutics to research and develop induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) AlloCAR therapy products for the treatment of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia and multiple myeloma. Under the partnership, Allogene and Notch are creating allogeneic cell therapy candidates from T cells or natural killer (NK) cells using Notch’s ETN platform.
The Ontario Bioscience Innovation Organization (OBIO) was founded in 2009 and is a not-for-profit, membership-based organization engaged in strategy, programming, policy development and advocacy to further the commercialization of Ontario’s human health science companies positioning Ontario as a leader in the international marketplace. OBIO advances this goal through collaborative partnerships with industry, the investment community, academia, patients and government.
OBIO’s 2020 Niagara Investment Summit was held over three days in Niagara-on-the-Lake and created hundreds of introductions between attending companies and global investors. Learn more about the Summit.
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