Commercializing Biotech to Fight Cancer June 13, 2012 RICCentre By: Fatema Fatakdawala The RIC Centre is the Peel region’s portal to commercialization of research projects. When it comes to biotech start-ups with therapeutic products, it is now common knowledge that the “research“ phase can take decades to complete. As if going through three phases of clinical trials is not enough, these companies then have to get their drug approved by stringent regulatory forces such as the FDA and Health Canada. Nonetheless, researchers continue to innovate in the fight against diseases such as HIV and cancer for which to date, there is no perfect cure. Bind Biosciences, an example of a biotech start-up was launched in 2007. They have attempted to target cancer cells using a nanoparticle (NP) drug delivery system. The idea being that the NP containing the drug compound could selectively target tumor cells and avoid healthy ones using antibody recognition (See diagram). “We make hundreds of combinations to evaluate in order to optimize the performance of each drug,” says Jeff Hrkach, senior vice president of technology research and development. The results of the first human clinical trials for such an experimental cancer drug have showed promising results. While one patient’s metastatic lung tumour shrank within a 2 hour period at a lower than usual dose (thanks to the nanoparticle’s specificity), another patient’s cervical cancer reduced by nearly 60% in only six months. The overarching challenge with nanoparticles for drug delivery is their generation as it is difficult to control their size and shape and therefore, their properties within the body. Bind has come up with an innovative self-assembly method to make consistent nanoparticles with desirable characteristics in terms of solubility and toxicity in the body. Read more about this new therapy here. Fatema joins the RIC team as the Communications Officer responsible for marketing, social media, event and web management. She is a graduate student pursuing her final year in the Master of Biotechnology program at the University of Toronto Mississauga. The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.