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Biotherapeutics for Cancer Treatment - BioCanRx - BioCanRx

$40 million for 2014-24
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Biotherapeutics for Cancer Treatment - BioCanRx

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

Canada’s Immunotherapy Network

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 defenc e 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

BioCanRx is a pan-Canadian network of expertise and infrastructure for the development, manufacturing and clinical testing of new immunotherapies 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 and its partners are funding CAR-T manufacturing in Canada. Significant capacity-building activities are underway to develop the infrastructure and operating procedures to manufacture and deliver a Canadian-made CAR-T cell product for the first Canadian academic-led CAR-T clinical trial. This new capacity will enable researchers to clinically develop next generation CAR-Ts in Canada. BioCanRx is also gaining recognition by regulators and CADTH on how CAR-T will be adopted and paid for in the Canadian health-care system.

  • To help ensure CAR-T cell therapy is brought to Canadian patients safely and effectively, BioCanRx has an integrated knowledge translation project called GO-CART. It has reviewed the existing base of knowledge and involved patients and clinicians as part of the team to inform clinical trial design. They have developed an optimized CAR-T clinical trial protocol ready to implement for the first Canadian academic-led CAR-T clinical trial.

  • The network’s Clinical, Social and Economic Impact research program funded a project in the development and application of Early Health Technology Assessment (HTA) tools and measures to answer the question: “What are the evidence gaps to be addressed in order to support reimbursement of CAR-T therapy strategies from the health-care payer perspective?” The push for this research investment arose from our Cancer Stakeholder Alliance membership.

  • BioCanRx is leveraging our grant funds through our many industry partnerships. From our investment of $17.9M, our estimated partner contributions for our first cycle (2015-2020) will total an impressive $62.1M. BioCanRx has funded 45 projects (including 8 clinical trials) through these collaborations. The projects are therapies in our clinical development pipeline, and technologies to enable their arrival in clinic. BioCanRx also funded seven core facilities. These include two GMP manufacturing core facilities and immune monitoring core facilities for deciphering immune system responses in the clinical trials we fund. 

  • BioCanRx has garnered international recognition for its successful Learning Institute at the annual Summit for Cancer Immunotherapy. Patient/public leaders and academic scholars come together in a collaborative knowledge exchange program. Patient participants become familiar with research concepts in immuno-oncology, develop knowledge translation skills, network, create partnerships and write a Dissemination Report to share their learnings with the cancer community. Participating scientists become better acquainted with the patient experience. The ultimate goal is patient scholar-researcher collaboration.

Connect with BioCanRx


June 29, 2021
February 4, 2021
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December 15, 2020
November 20, 2020
May 28, 2020
February 4, 2020
May 3, 2019
March 28, 2019
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November 21, 2018
September 30, 2018
September 24, 2018
September 21, 2018
February 2, 2018
November 21-22, 2021
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