TORONTO, Feb. 20, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Centre for the Commercialization of Antibodies and Biologics (CCAB) today announced a license agreement with Empirica Therapeutics Inc. aimed at developing new treatments for one of the deadliest forms of brain cancer, glioblastoma.

Glioblastoma (GBM) is an aggressive brain cancer that, even with the best current standard of care – which includes surgery, radiation treatment and chemotherapy – has a median survivorship of only 14 months. “Glioblastoma is an unforgiving disease because it always comes back,” said Dr. Sheila Singh, co-founder and CEO of Empirica Therapeutics. “We need to look at new ways of helping these patients because current therapies are failing them.”

Empirica Therapeutics will lead the clinical development of novel therapeutics for GBM. The new company was formed in a partnership between CCAB and collaborators at McMaster University and the University of Toronto. Empirica Therapeutics’ lead candidate targets CD133 that is highly expressed in certain GBM cells and can potentially lead to GBM recurrence. Empirica has developed a novel CD133 immunotherapy based on the CAR-T modality that has shown promising results in pre-clinical models of GBM. This is the first product in Empirica’s pre-clinical pipeline. The company is looking to identify additional targets that can broaden applications in brain tumours and other cancers.

Dr. Singh is a professor of surgery and biochemistry at McMaster University in Hamilton and the former division head of neurosurgery at Hamilton Health Sciences. She holds a Senior Canada Research Chair in Human Brain Cancer Stem Cell Biology.

Empirica was co-founded with Dr. Jason Moffat, an expert in functional genomics and gene editing. Dr. Moffat is a professor at the Donnelly Centre at the University of Toronto and a Canada Research Chair in Functional Genomics of Cancer.

Today’s company launch is the third as part of CCAB’s new business strategy, which aims to attract investment to create and build successful life sciences companies in Canada. “The goal of our strategy is to help translate scientific achievement and innovation into viable life sciences companies and Empirica Therapeutics is an excellent fit,” says Robert Verhagen, CEO of CCAB. “Supporting entrepreneurial scientists, like the Empirica team, helps to develop the skills and expertise that will help build and drive a sustainable biotech industry in Canada and will ultimately benefit the patients who need more effective therapies.”

About CCAB
The Centre for the Commercialization of Antibodies and Biologics is a national Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research located in Toronto, Canada. CCAB supports innovators and emerging life sciences companies through its expertise in product and business development to advance therapeutic candidates and technologies that will form the basis for company growth and sustainability.

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About Empirica Therapeutics
Empirica Therapeutics is developing a pipeline of innovative and transformative immunotherapies for cancers with substantial unmet need. The engine behind Empirica is a powerful functional genomics platform combined with unique patient-based models of brain cancer and recurrence that enables the discovery of new therapeutics options that have emerged from the patient’s actual tumour biology.

Learn more: empiricatx.com

For more information contact:

Karen Ramlall
Communications Manager, CCAB
+1 (416) 951 4663
Karen.ramlall@ccabcanada.com

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/e291e4fd-68f4-4d3a-b0fe-bfdbe9b8e7ee