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Quark, GF Securities invest $1.9 mln in Sitka Biopharma

Vancouver-based biotechnology company Sitka Biopharma has raised $1.9 million from Canadian life sciences venture capital firm Quark Venture and China’s GF Securities Co Ltd.

Sitka is developing a nanoparticle platform to increase absorption of drugs in difficult-to-penetrate tissues.

It will use the funds raised to complete work in advance of the initial Phase 1 clinical trials of STK-01, a lead product for treating bladder cancer.

Founded in 2013 and led by President and CSO Michael Parr, Sitka is a spin off of The Centre for Drug Research and Development and University of British Columbia. It raised seed funding from Quark in 2016.


Sitka Biopharma Announces New Investment from Global Health Sciences Fund

October 25, 2018

VANCOUVER, British Columbia–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Sitka Biopharma is pleased to announce that Quark Venture Inc. and GF Securities, through their Global Health Sciences Fund (GHS), has invested $1.9M into Sitka – financing that will enable the company to complete critical GLP toxicology studies and GMP manufacture of clinical drug product. This in turn will allow Sitka and partner Cancer Research UK (CRUK) to complete initial Phase 1 clinical trials of STK-01, Sitka’s lead product for the treatment of bladder cancer.

A spin-off of CDRD and the University of British Columbia (UBC), Sitka Biopharma is a preclinical biotechnology company focused on developing its breakthrough nanoparticle platform technology to increase absorption of drugs in difficult-to-penetrate tissues. While STK-01 is being developed for the treatment of bladder cancer, follow-on indications of the current core formulation include intraperitoneal delivery for ovarian cancer and other indications where localized drug delivery would be advantageous but currently ineffective due to those penetration challenges.

Preclinical studies have established that Sitka’s candidate formulation significantly improved bladder tissue uptake when compared to the commercial docetaxel formulation. Furthermore, the proprietary hyperbranched polyglycerols (HPG)-docetaxel formulation demonstrated superior efficacy over commercial docetaxel – providing a preclinical proof-of-concept.

Dr. Michael Parr, Sitka’s President and Chief Scientific Officer said, “This is an extremely pivotal investment for Sitka as it means we can complete the final IND-enabling studies and take our lead therapeutic for bladder cancer into the clinic via our partnership with CRUK. This investment sets up the company for rapid progression through those initial clinical trials and we can also begin planning to expand STK-01 to additional indications.”

Ms. Karimah Es Sabar, Chief Executive Officer of Quark Venture and Director of GHS Fund commented “GHS Fund believes Sitka is poised for an important medical breakthrough in bladder cancer. This initial success will be leveraged for further development of the platform in other indications, including ovarian cancer.”

Bladder cancer is the 4th most common cancer in men, and has the highest per patient lifetime cost of all cancers. The challenge in bladder cancer is that because of the nature of the bladder, drugs are not well-absorbed and only stay in the bladder for as long as the patient does not void their bladder – a critical issue addressed by the Sitka technology.

This technology was initially developed through a collaboration between the UBC and CDRD. Additional early funding included grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Genome British Columbia, and the National Research Council of Canada’s IRAP Program. Quark Venture provided the first private financing in March 2016.

About Sitka Biopharma

Sitka Biopharma is a preclinical biotechnology company focused on developing its breakthrough nanoparticle platform technology to increase absorption of drugs in difficult-to-penetrate tissues. Initially targeting oncology indications, Sitka is developing its lead candidate (STK-01) to address the absorption challenge of intravesical chemotherapy for bladder cancer, and later intraperitoneal delivery for ovarian cancer. Sitka is a spin-off company of The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD), and the University of British Columbia (UBC). For more information, visit

About Global Health Sciences Fund (GHSF)

Global Health Sciences Fund was jointly established by Quark Venture Inc. and GF Securities in 2016. Global Health Sciences Fund is a health sciences venture fund that invests globally in a diversified portfolio of innovative biotechnology and health sciences companies that are addressing unmet medical needs through innovations in drug development, medical devices, health IT and emerging convergent technologies.

About Quark Venture

Quark Venture Inc. is a venture capital company focused on equity financing of innovative biotechnology companies with breakthrough technology platforms. Our strategic goal is to continually support such entrepreneurial biotechnology companies to efficiently improve the technology platform and obtain high-growth value by providing diversified healthcare products or services. Quark’s proven success is achieved through long-term relationships with target companies that share similar technology innovation visions. For information about Quark Venture or GF Securities visit

About CDRD

CDRD is Canada’s national life sciences venture, powering the country’s life sciences industry by creating and growing companies of scale – and training the scientific and business talent needed to drive them to become leading global anchors in Canada. We build collaborations with the very best partners from academia, industry, patient foundations, the investment community, and other Key Opinion Leaders to provide the specialized expertise and infrastructure to identify, validate and advance promising discoveries, and transform them into commercially viable investment opportunities for the private sector — and ultimately into new therapies for patients.

Sitka Biopharma & CDRD
Julia White, 604-827-1226
Senior Manager, Communications
Quark Venture
Kaley Wilson, 604-262-8818
Director, Business Development