News Feature | November 17, 2014

Encycle Therapeutics Advances Macrocycle Drug For IBD

By Estel Grace Masangkay

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Biotech startup Encycle Therapeutics announced that it has entered into multi-stakeholder collaboration for the development of its lead macrocycle drug for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

The company has signed into collaboration with the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer — Commercialization of Research (IRICoR), the Université de Montréal, (UdeM) and MaRS Innovation. This partnership follows a public-private funding alliance established by Merck Canada last year, in which the company pledged $4 million to help develop collaborative research projects with three chosen Canadian academic commercialization centers, including IRICoR and MaRS Innovation. As part of the agreement, IRICoR will gain an equity position, while MaRS Innovation will expand its equity stake at Encycle Therapeutics in return for its funding. The investment will be used to advance the company’s lead orally bioavailable macrocycle drug designed to target integrin a4b7, which is implicated in the inflammation that characterizes several diseases, including IBD.

Dr. Raphael Hofstein, president and CEO of MaRS Innovation, said, “Encycle Therapeutics has spent the last 18 months demonstrating the significant potential of its innovative macrocyle chemistry platform to generate small-cell permeable systems… We are excited to see their first product offering advancing through this unique and creative partnership that will further the existing relationship between Ontario and Québec and position the company for follow-on financing.”

The collaboration will recruit a number of experienced scientists at the UdeM’s Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) to further develop Encycle’s lead molecule. Additional studies will be facilitated at UdeM while Encycle will take responsibility for pre-clinical efficacy studies as well as other related activities.

Michel Bouvier, CEO of IRICoR and IRIC, said, “We are very pleased to be working with both Encycle and MaRS Innovation on this project, which would not have been possible without the support of Merck Canada. Our highly experienced medicinal chemistry team, which has previously delivered clinical candidates, is looking forward to making a major contribution to this project.”