Canadian life sciences venture capital firm AmorChem has invested in a Montreal’s McGill University project focused on the identification of small molecules to treat an aggressive form of ovarian cancer. No financial terms were disclosed.
MONTREAL–(BUSINESS WIRE)–AmorChem II L.P. (“AmorChem”) is proud to announce the closing of a new transaction with McGill University (“McGill”), focusing on the work of Dr. Sidong Huang and his collaborator, Dr. Martin Schmeing, from the Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Research Centre. The project, financed by AmorChem, will focus on the identification of small molecules to treat small cell carcinoma of the ovary, hypercalcemic type (“SCCOHT”).
“We were impressed by the sophisticated screening campaigns utilized by Dr. Huang to uncover synthetic lethal targets in various cancers. His focus on the SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling complex was particularly interesting, as it frequently incurs inactivating mutations and deletions in various components of the complex, which are themselves not druggable. His screen identified targets, such as SL2, that expose the vulnerabilities of such mutations and deletions indirectly. SL2 represents an exciting and novel mitochondrial target to treat certain SMARCA4-deficient cancers,” says Kevin McBride, Chief Scientific Officer and Partner at AmorChem.
Through this investment, the forces of NuChem Therapeutics inc. (“NuChem”) will join with those of the McGill team to identify and optimise small molecule inhibitors of SL2. AmorChem collaborations with NuChem have been successful in the past and the combination of strong medicinal chemistry and assay development teams with a strong functional genomics group should be very positive for the outcome of this project.
“SCCOHT is an aggressive, rare form of ovarian cancer which affects predominantly women in their 20s. With 65% of patients dying within two years, this severe disease represents a definite unmet medical need. If the usefulness of targeting SL2 with small molecules can be proven in SCCOHT, we believe it will also be possible to extend the use of its inhibitors to other oncology indications, such as non-small cell lung cancer,” says Elizabeth Douville, Managing Partner at AmorChem.
“I would like to thank AmorChem and NuChem for their investment in Dr. Huang’s work,” says Sylvain Coulombe, Associate Vice-Principal, Innovation and Partnerships (I+P), McGill University. “Helping move ground-breaking research from the lab to the clinic – particularly in the service of treating rare, devastating diseases – demonstrates the power of diverse partners working toward a common goal. That is why supporting and promoting research with strong potential for commercialization is and will remain at the core of our mission in I+P and at McGill.”
AmorChem (www.amorchem.com) is a leading early stage venture capital fund launched in 2011 in Montreal. The AmorChem team utilizes its deep understanding of fundamental science to uncover its therapeutic potential and focuses its core expertise in translational research to accelerate therapeutic drug discovery and development across a broad spectrum of disease areas. The fund capitalises on both its venture capital expertise and its entrepreneurial experience to spark the creation of start-up companies and help shape them into the next generation of biotech companies. With over $85M under management, AmorChem has financed over 30 university projects and started up several biotechnology companies from the fruits of this innovative research.
About McGill University
Founded in Montreal, Quebec, in 1821, McGill University is Canada’s top ranked medical doctoral university. McGill is consistently ranked as one of the top universities, both nationally and internationally. It is a world-renowned institution of higher learning with research activities spanning two campuses, 11 faculties, 13 professional schools, 300 programs of study and over 40,000 students, including more than 10,200 graduate students. McGill attracts students from over 150 countries around the world, its 12,800 international students making up 31% of the student body. Over half of McGill students claim a first language other than English, including approximately 19% of our students who say French is their mother tongue.