BioCanRx Impact

Bridging the Gap

Since its inception in 2015, BioCanRx has built a highly performing translational engine for cancer immunotherapy. The network bridges the gap between promising early-stage technologies and their clinical evaluation by taking a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary, ecosystem approach.

Canada has a strong record of health discovery and invention but does not perform as well as it could at translating these discoveries to innovations and treatments. Along the translational path, there are several roadblocks thwarting cancer researchers.

The consequence is fewer curative therapies available to patients through clinical trials. BioCanRx is removing these barriers by providing an integrated approach to supporting new therapeutic discoveries. The key to championing made-in-Canada solutions is to address the structural issues that block bench-to-bedside translation. By leveraging and building up existing investments in our life science ecosystem, we can maximize the benefits of Canadian research investments to patients as soon as possible. Designing trials that collect real world data is also crucial, so that new health care solutions are tailored for future adoption into our health care system.

Given that the network started in 2015, it has demonstrated unprecedented efficiency in moving basic discoveries to clinical trials. The partnerships formed by BioCanRx succeeded in bridging a drug development gap in the Canadian drug development enterprise. Important Canadian discoveries that had no path for translation in Canada were transferred to other countries. With BioCanRx and its Canadian network, Canadian discoveries are now being developed and translated in Canada.

- Kuldeep Neote, Entrepreneur in Residence, FACIT and US National Institutes of Health; Past VP, External Innovation, Eli Lily; Chair, International Expert Panel, 2019 BioCanRx evaluation

BioCanRx’s Pipeline Approach

BioCanRx’s pipeline approach provides funding to innovations across the translational continuum - from the lab to the clinic (i.e., proof of concept, pre-clinical development, process development and manufacturing and clinical trials). Underpinning these projects is our Clinical, Social and Economic Impact (CSEI) program and our Core Facilities. CSEI projects develop potential solutions to social, legal, ethical, economic or health-system barriers facing biotherapeutic projects and platforms, such as early health technology assessment (HTA), as they progress through the translational pipeline from pre-clinical research to clinical trials and to adoption within the health care system. Translational research activities are advanced by investments in Core Facilities that offer unique expertise and services to funded project teams.

BioCanRx Projects Through Different Research Stages

BioCanRx has funded several technologies transitioning from one stage of development to the next via its research funding pipeline. For example, Dr. Robert Holt (BCCA)’s KRAS-targeting cell therapy productwas previously funded as a Catalyst Project and is now funded by an Enabling Studies award to position their innovation for clinical testing. The CLIC-19 CAR T cell therapy has also progressed through BioCanRx’s pipeline from Enabling Study project to Clinical Trial, which has further been supported by the integrated knowledge translation CSEI project, GO-CART.

BioCanRx’s research pipeline concept has been highly successful, owing in part to its international Research Management Committee (RMC). The RMC ensures BioCanRx research investments are sound, and that funded projects are innovative, benchmarked against international initiatives, with potential for commercialization and adoption in the Canadian health system. The Cancer Stakeholder Alliance, a consortium of more than 50 cancer charities and NGOs, shapes the engagement of patients in network activities. The CSA also informs research program priorities related to patient access to innovative therapies and future health system adoption (e.g., highlighting the need for early HTA research for CAR T-cell therapy).

Translational Training Program Fit-for-Purpose

Key to accelerating biotherapeutic development to the clinic is targeted training to academic researchers and their teams of highly qualified personnel (HQP) on biologics drug development and regulatory affairs at critical junctures of their project pipeline. BioCanRx targeted training programs aim to fill knowledge gaps and provide hands-on training to network investigators and HQP with experts from the network. These initiatives have received a 95% satisfaction rating. For more information on BioCanRx’s training program, including our highly valued in-depth workshops and GMP micro-credentialled programming, click here.

More Than the Sum of its Parts: The BioCanRx Ecosystem

Project intake and performance monitoring

Cancer Stakeholder Alliance & Joint Action Plan, The Learning Institute, Patient-Researcher Roundtable, BioCanRx public forums, online initiatives

Multiple spin-out companies and IP generated

New curative therapies available to patients

Better project outcomes

Engagement of multi-sectoral stakeholders (regulators, patient groups etc.); Funded projects that address clinical, social, and economic impact

Job-ready HQP

Viral Ventures for vector and vaccine development and GMP manufacturing; Addressing the skills gap in GMP though integrative learning program; Initiation of Point of Care network for cellular therapies against cancer