Transforming Discovery into Opportunity

Quark Venture Makes Significant Seed Investment in CDRD-UBC Spin-off, Sitka Biopharma



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Vancouver, Canada – April 13, 2016: Sitka Biopharma is pleased to announce that Quark Venture has made a significant seed investment in the company – a critical value-creating event that will enable Sitka to advance their lead compound for the treatment of bladder cancer into clinical trials.

A spin-off of The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) and the University of British Columbia (UBC), Sitka Biopharma is a preclinical biotechnology company focused on developing its breakthrough nanoparticle platform technology to increase absorption of drugs in difficult-to-penetrate tissues. Initially targeting oncology indications, Sitka is developing its lead candidate (STK-01) to address the absorption challenge of intravesical chemotherapy for bladder cancer, and later, intraperitoneal delivery for ovarian cancer.

Dr. Michael Parr, Sitka’s President and Chief Scientific Officer commented, “This is an extremely pivotal investment for Sitka as it means we now have the financial resources to complete IND-enabling studies and take our lead therapeutic for bladder cancer into the clinic via Quark’s investment. There are very few effective chemotherapeutic treatments for intermediate and high-risk non-muscle invasive bladder cancer, with other treatment options being undesirable or ineffective in the long term. The scientific and business expertise at CDRD has been instrumental in moving Sitka’s unique technology towards commercialization and the clinic. Sitka is another example of how they are successfully creating and supporting a new generation of leading life sciences companies.”

Bladder cancer is the 4th most common cancer in men, and has the highest per patient lifetime cost of all cancers. The challenge in bladder cancer is that because of the nature of the bladder, drugs are not well-absorbed and only stay in the bladder for as long as the patient does not void their bladder – a critical issue addressed by the Sitka technology.

In preclinical studies, Sitka’s candidate formulation has been demonstrated to significantly improve bladder tissue uptake when compared to the commercial docetaxel formulation in large animal PK studies. Further, in animal models of bladder cancer, the proprietary hyperbranched polyglycerols (HPG)-docetaxel formulation demonstrated superior efficacy over commercial docetaxel – providing a preclinical proof-of-concept.

Dr. Chenguang Jiang, Quark’s Chief Investment Officer added, “Quark Venture is delighted to have this opportunity to establish a partnership with Sitka and CDRD. There is no doubt that the comprehensive resources, not only financial, brought in by Quark will accelerate the progress of this innovative technology platform to achieve new milestones. The co-operation of our companies will help elevate Sitka’s product lines towards new levels.”

Ms. Karimah Es Sabar, President and CEO of CDRD commented, “This securing of private investment into Sitka further validates the CDRD model where we collaborate with our partners in academia, industry, and with funders such as CIHR and Genome BC to advance a promising discovery to the point where it is attractive to the private sector which can then take on its clinical development. This is exactly the type of commercial transaction that is the ultimate measure of CDRD’s success as Canada’s national drug development and commercialization centre, and which will support our self-sustainability into the future.”

This technology and its application were initially developed and subsequently advanced toward a product candidate through a collaboration between UBC and CDRD. The collaboration was led by Dr. Helen Burt, Associate Vice President of Research at UBC along with Dr. Don Brooks, Professor of Pathology whose group developed the drug binding HPG polymers, and Dr. Martin Gleave, a world-leading urologist at the Vancouver Prostate Centre/UBC. The team was soon expanded to include Dr. Jay Kizhakkedathu, Associate Professor of Pathology at UBC for HPG chemistry development, and Dr. Alan So, Associate Professor, Department of Urologic Sciences at the VPC/UBC for the preclinical bladder cancer studies and clinical feedback. Together, they have worked with drug development experts at CDRD to create the novel nanoparticulate polymer drug delivery technology program and its application in bladder cancer.

CDRD de-risked and added value to the Sitka polymer project by carrying out the drug development activities, including PK, ADME and toxicology studies to support preclinical proof of concept and selection of a lead candidate, filing patents, and securing initial funding through grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and Genome British Columbia.

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About Sitka Biopharma
Sitka Biopharma is a preclinical biotechnology company focused on developing its breakthrough nanoparticle platform technology to increase absorption of drugs in difficult-to-penetrate tissues. Initially targeting oncology indications, Sitka is developing its lead candidate (STK-01) to address the absorption challenge of intravesical chemotherapy for bladder cancer, and later intraperitoneal delivery for ovarian cancer. Sitka is a spin-off company of The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD), and the University of British Columbia (UBC). For more information, visit www.sitkabiopharma.com.

About Quark Venture
Quark Venture Inc. is a venture capital company focused on equity financing of innovative biotechnology companies with breakthrough technology platforms. Our strategic goal is to continually support such entrepreneurial biotechnology companies to efficiently improve the technology platform and obtain high-growth value by providing diversified healthcare products or services. Quark’s proven success is achieved through long-term relationships with target companies that share similar technology innovation visions.

About The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD)
Headquartered in Vancouver, The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) is Canada’s national drug development and commercialization engine. We work in partnership with academia, industry, government and foundations, and provide the specialized expertise and infrastructure to identify and de-risk promising discoveries, and transform them into commercially viable investment opportunities for the private sector – and ultimately into innovative new therapies for patients. In doing so, CDRD is actively growing our national health sciences industry into a wholly-optimized generator of economic prosperity for the country. Canada’s Networks of Centres of Excellence Program has recognized CDRD as a Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR). www.cdrd.ca

Contacts:

Julia White
Manager, Communications
CDRD / Sitka Biopharma
jwhite@cdrd.ca
Tel: 604-827-1226

Dr. Chenguang (Franklin) Jiang
Chief Investment Officer
Quark Venture
Franklinjiang@quarkventure.com
Tel: 778-238-8766

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