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CDRD Invests in Sitka Biopharma to Advance Bladder Cancer Treatment to Clinical Trial

By February 20, 2019No Comments

CDRD, Canada’s national life sciences venture, is pleased to announce an increased commitment to Sitka Biopharma with a $1.2M investment. This new investment will enable Sitka and its partner Cancer Research UK (CRUK) to accelerate critical development activities and rapidly enter clinical trials of STK-01, Sitka’s lead product for the treatment of bladder cancer.

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. Sitka is currently completing its GMP and GLP campaigns in preparation for the CRUK CTA filing and start of clinical trials.

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.

“This investment exemplifies CDRD commitment to powering the country’s life sciences industry by creating and growing companies of scale for Canadian life sciences to lead the world. Sitka’s initial program is focused on treating bladder cancer but has promising potential to be a platform for other difficult-to-treat cancers,” said Gordon McCauley, President and CEO of CDRD.

Dr. Michael Parr, Sitka’s President and Chief Scientific Officer added, “We thank CDRD for this additional investment as it means we can build on successful milestones and advance our lead therapeutic for bladder cancer into Phase 1 clinical trials. This investment also allows the company to scale up its operations and expand STK-01 to additional indications.”

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. Sitka’s funding includes investments by Quark Venture and early-stage grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Genome British Columbia, and the National Research Council of Canada’s IRAP Program.