Networks of Centres of Excellence of Canada
Government of Canada

Common menu bar links

Biotherapeutics for Cancer Treatment - BioCanRx

$25 million for 2014-19
About   |   News   |   Features
Biotherapeutics for Cancer Treatment

Number of partners

Partner contributions
$10.2 million

Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, Ontario

Scientific Director
John Bell John Bell

President and CEO
Stéphanie Michaud Stéphanie Michaud

Board chair
Ken Newport Ken Newport

Ramping up cancer-fighting factories across Canada

The opportunity

Immunotherapies are among the most exciting and promising cancer treatments to emerge in the past decade, thanks to their ability to mobilize and activate the body’s natural defense mechanisms against the most advanced cancers. Unfortunately too many of these promising therapies are failing to reach the clinic, in part because of a lack of critical infrastructure to bridge the gap between the laboratory discoveries and human testing of promising experimental therapeutics. Canada has launched a national effort to overcome these hurdles. Scientists and clinicians are working with provincial agencies, cancer foundations, industry and NGOs – as well as cancer patients and their families – to bring new treatments to patients quickly while reducing health care costs.

How BioCanRx is seizing the opportunity

Biotherapeutics for Cancer Treatment (BioCanRx) established a pan-Canadian network of expertise and infrastructure for the development, manufacture and clinical testing of new personalized biotherapeutics that hold the promise of being more effective, affordable and safe than conventional cancer therapies. The network builds upon the fundamental scientific discoveries made in laboratories across the country and leverages Canada’s specialized manufacturing, toxicity and testing infrastructure to de-risk the most promising therapeutic candidates and initiate testing in cancer patients. In addition to scientists and clinicians specializing in biology, genomics and immunology, legal scholars, ethicists and health economists have also been enlisted to ensure a holistic approach is taken for the uptake of these technologies within the health care system and that they are affordable to health care payers.

Among the results

  • BioCanRx funded the world’s first clinical trial to combine an oncolytic vaccine approach with checkpoint inhibitor antibodies for cancer treatment. The Phase I clinical trial is fostering multi-sector partnerships between biotechnology start-up Turnstone Biologics Inc. and a pharmaceutical company. It will be conducted in five Canadian sites.
  • In collaboration with several other biomedical research organizations, BioCanRx led the creation of the Educational Working Group in Clinical Translation. The group aims to assess, direct and develop training and educational opportunities from basic research to commercialization of cancer biotherapeutics.
  • BioCanRx launched a Clinical, Social and Economic Impact (CSEI) research funding program to advance research that will improve the quality and impact of pre-clinical and clinical studies funded by BioCanRx.
  • BioCanRx is providing strategic funding to support a world-first trial that combines two viruses with an antibody therapy to strengthen and train the body’s immune system to find and kill cancer cells. The network’s funding will also support pharmaceutical-grade virus manufacturing facilities in Ontario.

Connect with BioCanRx


December 1, 2017
October 20, 2017
February 2, 2017
February 1, 2017
December 9, 2016
December 7, 2016
November 2, 2016
September 16, 2016
BioCanRx supports innovative clinical trial combining experimental cancer-killing viruses and antibodies
April 27, 2017
More than 50 Canadians with lung cancer could be the first trial participants who may benefit from a promising new combination therapy with the potential to significantly improve treatment outcomes, and cause fewer side effects than many current treatments. Read more
Cells... in a box
January 31, 2017
It’s like magic – insert a cancer patient’s blood cells in one end and out the other end come T-cells adapted for cell therapy. Read more