OICR funds Fluorinov Pharma Inc. to develop cancer-treating drug

Dr. Slassi, president & CSO of Fluorinov Pharma Inc. at MaRS Centre in Toronto. Photo courtesy: Peter Dove.

The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) announces $1.5 million in funding to be spread over three years to help develop a new drug from Toronto-based Fluorinov Pharma Inc. The new drug, FV-162, helps with the treatment of blood cancers.

“Our investment in Fluorinov Pharma Inc. will move FV-162 towards the market by helping it to meet the preclinical requirements of Health Canada and the FDA,” said Frank Stonebanks, OICR’s vice-president, commercialization and chief commercial officer, in a prepared statement. “This novel drug is very promising and could improve the quality of life and outcomes of patients with certain blood cancers.”

FV-162 helps treat blood cancers such as multiple myeloma and some forms of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma by targeting the proteasome, a part of the cell responsible for recycling old proteins. Currently, proteasome inhibitor-based treatments are toxic, and need intravenous delivery. Also, there is the possibility of some cancers developing a resistance to this treatment. Fluorinov Pharma Inc.’s new drug has a lower toxicity, is taken orally, and in the laboratory has proven effective against drug-resistant cancers.

In developing FV-162, the company used a unique medical chemistry technology, where fluorine atoms are placed in drug candidates to enhance their pharmacokinetic properties and biological activities. FV-162 selectively inhibits the chymotrypsin-like enzymatic activity of the proteasome.

The funding comes from OICR’s Intellectual Property Development and Commercialization Fund, which in 2011 changed the criteria for funding applicants to include Ontario start-ups with promising oncology intellectual property. Fluorinov Pharma Inc. is the first to receive funding with the new criteria.

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