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Canadian collaboration to accelerate development of cancer treatments

NRC and CCAB invest over $1M to advance innovative therapies first discovered at UofT

March 20, 2017 – Montreal, QC, and Toronto, ON ─ An innovative collaboration between government, industry, and academia aims to accelerate the development of cancer treatments in Canada. The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the Toronto-based Centre for the Commercialization of Antibodies and Biologics (CCAB) have put in place over $1M in collaborative agreements over the past year to produce and test therapeutic antibodies discovered at the University of Toronto (U of T).

Cancer treatment is evolving rapidly toward more effective molecules, including single-domain and bi-specific antibodies, antibody-drug conjugates, and immunotherapy. These medicines, also called biologics, are able to specifically target cancer cells and in some cases, recruit the body’s immune system to help destroy them.

CCAB is a business development and commercialization engine whose mission is to translate UofT’s large portfolio of early stage biologics into high-value assets and products. To this purpose, CCAB has partnered with NRC to biomanufacture and test hundreds of antibodies.

The collaboration continues to grow and now leverages NRC’s three programs in Human Health Therapeutics:

  • Biologics and Biomanufacturing: producing biologics, testing their ability to fight solid tumours, and determining their biomanufacturability;
  • Therapeutics Beyond Brain Barriers: determining if specific antibodies are able to cross the blood-brain barrier, target and fight brain cancer;
  • Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics: determining if specific antibodies are able to modulate the immune system so that it finds and destroys cancer cells.

The goal of the collaboration is to identify the most promising antibodies, and increase their value by generating data that effectively de-risks each asset. CCAB’s objective is to then licence lead antibody candidates to seed newly formed Canadian biotechnology companies.  These new Canadian start-ups will, in turn, advance these molecules toward clinical trials in patients.  With several biotechnology companies already participating and benefitting from these programs, the collaboration between CCAB and NRC is clearly set to catalyze the country’s biotech sector and generate promising new cancer treatments for Canadians.


“Harnessing the inventive power of our top Canadian scientists and translating discoveries into products that benefit Canadians is a priority for the CCAB.  We are excited about our collaboration with the NRC and the commercial value it creates for the Canadian biotechnology industry.”
Ivan Waissbluth, Director of Business Development, Centre for the Commercialization of Antibodies and Biologics

“It is very gratifying to deploy NRC’s biologics expertise, which is over 20 years in the making, to projects that may revolutionize the treatment of cancer. We are thrilled to be working with the Centre for the Commercialization of Antibodies and Biologics on accelerating the development of innovative medicines, to improve health outcomes for Canadians.”
Roman Szumski, Vice-president of Life Sciences, NRC

“The University of Toronto is proud to see the impact that CCAB is having in driving antibody development in Canada. Bridging the strengths of our discovery platform, the Toronto Recombinant Antibody Centre (TRAC), to the established capabilities at the NRC is a key factor in advancing therapeutics.  Today’s announcement shows promise of a growing partnership and U of T is looking forward to seeing the successes that arise from it.”
Vivek Goel, Vice-President Research and Innovation, University of Toronto

Associated Links


Media Relations Team
National Research Council of Canada
1-855-282-1637 (24/7)
Twitter: @nrc_cnrc

Christine Misquitta
Vice President – Administration and Communications
Centre for the Commercialization of Antibodies and Biologics
Twitter: @CCABcan and @TRACantibodies

Media Relations
University of Toronto