Transforming Discovery into Opportunity

CDRD and Genome BC Partner to Help Transform Academic Research into Commercial Opportunities

Vancouver, BC – April 3, 2013 – Genome British Columbia has invested close to $900,000 in seven projects at The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) aimed at developing and commercializing innovative drug therapies ranging from treatment for Inflammatory Bowel Disease to a Synthetic Platelet Product. Four of these projects are ongoing, and three are now nearing completion. The investment has also been leveraged with over $1.8 million additional project funding being secured through CDRD and its public and private sector partners.

The unique CDRD drug development and commercialization model, coupled with investments from Genome BC, is facilitating the translation of discoveries made through academic research by bringing drug development expertise, infrastructure and funding support to academic investigators. Dr. Cornelius Boerkoel, a senior researcher at the Children and Family Research Institute (CFRI), had already begun research into cancer cell repair mechanisms after chemotherapy under a previous Genome BC funding program. His early results showed promise as a potential cancer treatment, hence his work received additional support through the CDRD/Genome BC partnership.

Dr. Boerkoel’s work focuses on the identification and optimization of compounds that inhibit an enzyme which could improve the effectiveness of current approved treatments for lung and colorectal cancers, as well as investigational therapies for various ovarian, thyroid, cervical, rhabomyosarcoma and breast cancers. By employing a combination therapy approach, Boerkoel’s team is hoping to achieve improved treatment outcomes with either equivalent or decreased toxicity for patients.

Dr. Maria Issa from UBC’s Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine has developed a synthetic blood platelet that mimics some of the functions of natural blood platelets. This product could offer an alternative treatment to reduce the bleeding of patients who had suffered severe trauma, or have reduced platelet numbers and for whom transfusion from a human donor is not an option.

Dr. Philip Hieter of the Michael Smith Laboratories at UBC has used yeast genetics to discover genes that may cause chromosome instability of cancer cells. He is working with CDRD to identify compounds that may take advantage of this unique characteristic of cancer cells to selectively kill them without harming normal healthy cells.

Several other projects are either finished or nearing conclusion, including SFU’s Dr. Robert Young’s work around identifying biomarkers that would allow for more effective assessment of disease activity in clinical trials for inflammatory bowel disease; Dr. Michael Hayden of the Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics’ work to identify compounds to inhibit a protein implicated in Huntington’s Disease; Dr. Max Cynader from the Brain Research Centre at UBC investigating inhibition of the interaction between two proteins that may offer insight into treatments for both hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke, as well as having potential in other neurodegenerative diseases; and Drs. Santiago Ramón-García and Charles Thompson, both at UBC, who are investigating combinations of known drugs that may help block certain types of infections.

“Genome BC is excited to partner with CDRD to catalyze and support the process of moving research down the pharmaceutical development pipeline,” said Dr. Alan Winter, President and CEO of Genome BC. “Even though much of this work is still in early stages and years from possibly being marketed, the results have led to additional projects that are attracting co-funding to the province. We are encouraged by the results of CDRD’s drug development model and it is a great way to move some very good research forward.”

Karimah Es Sabar, President and CEO of CDRD added, “Genome BC is a highly valued partner for CDRD. By working together, we have been able to leverage additional resources to further develop discoveries made by British Columbia’s world-class health researchers. In doing so, we have added significant value to these projects and successfully advanced them toward becoming new therapeutics in areas of high unmet medical need.”


About Genome British Columbia
Genome British Columbia is a catalyst for the life sciences cluster on Canada’s West Coast, and manages a cumulative portfolio of over $550M in research projects and science and technology platforms. Working with governments, academia and industry across sectors such as forestry, fisheries, agriculture, environment, bioenergy, mining and human health, the goal of the organization is to generate social and economic benefits for British Columbia and Canada.

About The Centre for Drug Research and Development
The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) is Canada’s fully-integrated national drug development and commercialization centre, providing expertise and infrastructure enabling researchers from leading health research institutions to advance promising early-stage drug candidates. Our mandate is to de-risk discoveries stemming from publicly-funded health research and transform them into viable investment opportunities for the private sector — thus successfully bridging the commercialization gap between academia and industry, and translating research discoveries into new therapies for patients and economic returns for British Columbia and Canada. Canada’s Networks of Centres of Excellence Program has recognized CDRD as a Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR).


For further information, please contact:

Jennifer Boon
Communications Specialist, Genome BC
Cell: 778-327-8374

Barry Gee
Director, Communications, CDRD
Cell: 604-619-4805

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