AmorChem invests in epigenetic therapy for the treatment of certain hematological cancers.
Montreal, February 11, 2013 – AmorChem is delighted to announce the closing of a transaction to pursue the development of a family of novel DNA methyl transferase inhibitors (DNMTIs). Based on an epigenetics mechanism, these drugs have the potential to be used in the treatment of certain types of cancers, most notably certain hematological cancers.
The work financed by AmorChem will take place in the laboratory of Dr. Richard Momparler, researcher at the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Center and professor, Department of Pharmacology, at the Université de Montréal Dr. Momparler is an expert in the evaluation of experimental chemotherapeutic agents. In addition, some chemistry work will be conducted at NuChem Therapeutics, a Montreal-based medicinal chemistry CRO which is wholly-owned by AmorChem.
“Taking a dormant asset and developing it using Dr. Momparler’s expertise is the perfect example of the kind of mutually beneficial partnerships that Amorchem’s extensive network can create for local researchers” comments Dr. Inès Holzbaur, General Partner at AmorChem.
The field of epigenetics has attracted increasing scientific attention: simply put, it is the study of changes in gene expression caused by mechanisms other than changes in the actual DNA sequence. In preliminary experiments, the drugs being developed in the AmorChem project have already shown a different spectrum of activity than currently approved drugs (e.g. Vidaza®, Dacogen®). They could therefore be used initially in the treatment of myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). It may also be possible to extend their usefulness in solid tumors, which would increase their market potential.
“AmorChem believes in the commercial potential of DNMTIs. In 2011, it was estimated that the total sales of the two main DNMTIs reached $927M and their use keeps growing,” says Dr. Élizabeth Douville, General Partner at AmorChem. “Also, results are starting to emerge in the scientific community to show the role of this target in the eradication of latent HIV infections and in certain orphan diseases, which could significantly increase the commercial interest for these drugs.”
ABOUT AMORCHEM L.P.
AmorChem L.P. (www.amorchem.com) is a venture capital fund located in Montreal focused on investing in promising life science projects originating from Quebec-based universities and research centres. The principal limited partners of this fund are Investissement-Québec, FIER Partenaires, Fonds de solidarité FTQ and Merck & Co. This fund is the latest addition to the GeneChem portfolio of funds, a fund manager in existence since 1997. AmorChem’s innovative business model involves financing research-stage projects to enable them to reach pre-clinical proof-of-concept (“POC”) in a semi-virtual mode within 18-24 months. The fund seeks to generate returns through a two-pronged exit strategy: sell projects having reached POC to large biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies; or bundle them into new spin-out companies. The projects will be managed by AmorChem using external resources. To that effect, AmorChem has established a strategic partnership with the Biotechnology Research Institute in order to access its R&D platforms. In addition, to enabling projects requiring small molecules as tools or drug leads, AmorChem has founded NuChem Therapeutics Inc., a medicinal chemistry contractresearch company.
ABOUT RESEARCH AT THE SAINTE-JUSTINE UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL CENTER
The Sainte-Justine University Hospital Center (www.chu-Sainte-Justine.org) is a leading mother-child research institution affiliated with the Université de Montréal. Its research center (www.chu-saintejustine.org/research) brings together more than 1200 people, including over 250 researchers and 450 graduate and post-graduate students who carry out fundamental, clinical, translational, and evaluative research on mother and child health. Research work falls under six research axes, namely Health Outcomes; Brain Diseases; Musculoskeletal Diseases and Movement Sciences; Viral and Immune Disorders and Cancers; Fetomaternal and Neonatal Pathologies; and Metabolic Health. Research is focused on finding innovative prevention means, faster and less invasive treatments, as well as personalized approaches to medicine. The Sainte-Justine University Hospital Centre is the largest mother-child centre in Canada and second most important in North America.
ABOUT NUCHEM THERAPEUTICS INC.
NuChem Therapeutics Inc. (www.nuchemtherapeutics.com) is a medicinal chemistry contract-research company wholly-owned by AmorChem. With laboratories situated at the Biotechnology Research Institute in Montreal, the company is led by Dr. Daniel Guay, formerly of Merck Canada and the Institut de recherche en immunologie et cancérologie (IRIC).
Business development contact:
514-849-6477 (o); 514-887-7696 (c)