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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 biomanufacturing in Canada and rolling out a point-of-care biomanufacturing network to enable the delivery of novel CAR T-cells using a decentralized manufacturing approach. This new capacity will enable researchers to clinically develop next generation CAR-Ts in Canada, proximal to their patient populations. Several projects are also underway to determine the optimal use of this novel therapy in patients and, working with partners such as CADTH and Health Ontario, on how CAR-T will be adopted and paid for in the Canadian health-care system.
  • The engine of expertise in immunology and clinical trials residing in the network was rapidly mobilized to respond to the high risk of mortality from COVID-19 faced by cancer patients undergoing treatment. COV-IMMUNO, a Phase III clinical trial opened on June 22, 2020 to determine whether cancer patients’ risk to COVID-19 health outcomes can be reduced by using IMM-101, a bacterium that stimulates the innate immune system. The trial sought to actively recruit 1500 individuals wherein 750 cancer patients could stand to benefit from this trial.
  • BioCanRx has collaborated with Algonquin College (Ottawa) to co-develop and implement a micro-credentialed program on Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) in collaboration with the OHRI BMC-VMF and e-Campus Ontario. This micro-credential will be the first-of-its-kind on the topic of GMP in Canada, offering hands-on, targeted training in a highly needed area.
  • BioCanRx is leveraging its grant funds through its many industry partnerships. From its research investment of $27.4M, itsr estimated partner contributions (2015-2021) will total $95.8M. BioCanRx has funded 59 projects (including 12 clinical trials) through these collaborations. BioCanRx also funded seven core facilities. These include two GMP biomanufacturing core facilities to produce GMP-grade products for use in the clinical trials they fund and immune monitoring core facilities for deciphering immune system responses from the patients participating in these trials.
  • 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 where the ultimate goal is patient scholar-researcher collaboration. Since implementing its patient engagement activities, such as the Learning Institute and Patient-Researcher Roundtables, BioCanRx has observed a 9-fold increase in patient engagement across its research programs.

Connect with BioCanRx


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