Therillia, a Montreal-based subsidiary of Sanderling Ventures Canada, an investor in early-stage biotech companies, has acquired TAVEC Pharmaceuticals, the leading therapeutic exosome company and is moving its head office from New York to Montreal. Tavec is an early stage therapeutics company focused on developing the next generation of potent anti-cancer gene therapies using the power of injectable, miRNA loaded exosomes, packets of pinched off membrane which penetrate solid tumors, in particular liver cancers.
“We have developed a broad-based technology platform that has all the attributes required for multiple therapeutic applications,” says Stephen Gould, Ph.D. who, with Florin Selaru, M.D., are leading researchers in the field of exosomes and liver disease. Both are from Johns Hopkins University.
Created in New York in 2015, Tavec pharmaceuticals received seed funding and has successfully completed pre-clinical studies. It is currently working on developing its filings in Quebec to initiate clinical trials in liver cancers and chronic liver diseases. “We are very excited to be moving this unique technology into the clinic in the near future in Quebec,” indicated Dr. Fred Hochberg, one of the founders of TAVEC. Dr. Hochberg has had a distinguished career in medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
“Montreal offers one of the world’s most thriving ecosystems for developing biotech companies, including its globally renowned research institutions, rich pool of experienced drug developers and a cost-effective environment for developing important new therapeutics,” said Pierre Beauparlant, Ph.D., Chief Business Officer at Therillia. TAVEC is the eighth portfolio company Sanderling has established in Montreal under Therillia in the past five years.
Using Exosomes to Cure Liver Diseases
Exosomes are small vesicles, ~30–150 nm in diameter, produced by all cells and are a major means of cell-to-cell communication. The pioneering work of Gould, Selaru and Ling Li showed that specific types of these vesicles, prepared from select cell cultures, penetrate the stromal matrix of hepatic carcinomas and accumulate in the liver cancer cells. Moreover, injection of exosomes loaded with therapeutic RNAs has been shown to lead to the functional delivery of these RNAs to and into cancer cells, suppressing cancer in aggressive rodent liver cancer models. Furthermore, TAVEC’s proprietary exosome-RNA formulations appear to be effective in models of chronic liver disease, as described by Dr. Gould and Dr. Luke Boulter of Edinburgh University.
“The literature suggests that various forms of RNA can be effective therapeutic agents if they can be appropriately delivered to the needed site. The exosomes from the TAVEC preparations have shown that capability. This gives hope to the multitude of patients suffering from liver cancer,” said Dr. Hochberg.
Source – PRNewswire