LAB150 awards its second drug discovery project from Canada’s largest research based Hospital, The University Health Network (UHN)

Toronto, ON, Oct. 04, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- MaRS Innovation announced today the second project to be developed under their LAB150 partnership with Evotec.


The project aims to develop a novel therapeutic approach to treat glaucoma, an irreversible neurodegenerative disease of the optic nerve which can lead to blindness. This project is derived from a decade of research investigating the molecular pathways underlying tissue damage and repair in the eye in the laboratory of Dr. Jeremy Sivak, Senior Scientist at UHN’s Krembil Research Institute, in Toronto.


Dr. Sivak’s and his team, along with collaborators at UC Berkeley, discovered a lipoxin with neuroprotective properties that has demonstrated efficacy in preclinical models of glaucoma.  Dr. Sivak has teamed up with medicinal chemist, Dr. Mark Reed from the Krembil Research Institute and the scientists at Evotec to discover potent and selective compounds targeting this novel mechanism of action in order to develop new class of drugs that could be used to treat glaucoma in patients.


“This strategic partnership will give us the help we need to develop the first neuroprotective treatment for glaucoma patients”, emphasizes Dr. Sivak.


Glaucoma is the leading cause of permanent blindness with over 70 million people affected worldwide. It is estimated to affect 1.9% of people over the age of 40. There is currently no cure for the disease and current treatments are limited to surgery or drugs to reduce eye pressure, a common symptom of the disease. The proposed project targets the underlying cause of disease in order to develop drugs that have the potential to prevent and repair glaucoma and to go beyond the current symptomatic treatments.


“We are delighted to be working with an exceptional team from UHN and Evotec to develop a first-in-class glaucoma therapeutic,” says Rafi Hofstein, President and CEO of MaRS Innovation. “With two projects now funded and several others to be announced imminently, the LAB150 mechanism represents a revolutionary tool to advance Canadian drug discovery projects towards commercialization.”


Dr. Werner Lanthaler, CEO of Evotec remarked: “We are excited that the scientific projects in LAB150 are progressing so well. This makes us confident that together with our partners we will be able to translate many more projects into clinical benefits for patients around the world.”


Adds Dr. John Reid, Director of UHN’s Technology Development and Commercialization (TDC) Office, “Funding of Dr. Sivak’s laboratory demonstrates the quality and strength of UHN’s scientists and our ability to deliver commercially interesting research that attracts commercialization partners and global investors, further enriching Toronto’s research ecosystem”.


About the University of Health Network

University Health Network (UHN) is a research hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto and a member of the Toronto Academic Health Science Network (TAHSN). UHN comprises the Michener Institute for Education at UHN and four hospitals: the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre (PM Cancer Centre), Toronto General Hospital (TGH), Toronto Rehab (TR) and Toronto Western Hospital (TWH). It has five research institutes: Krembil Research Institute (Krembil), PM Cancer Centre, Techna Institute for the Advancement of Technology for Health (Techna), Toronto General Hospital Research Institute (TGHRI) and Toronto Rehabilitation Institute (TRI). The scope of research and complexity of cases at UHN have made it a national and international source for discovery, education and patient care. For more information go to our hospital website ( or research website (


About LAB150

LAB150 is a collaboration between MaRS Innovation and Evotec AG designed to accelerate drug discovery. We bring scientists, investors and company building expertise together to rapidly delivery concepts to the marketplace. The mission of LAB150 is three-pronged: To develop and identify commercializable assets based on disease-related novel biological pathways; To significantly shorten the drug discovery timeline and; To generate viable start-up companies with high potential for success. The name commemorates Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017, the year in which the LAB150 partnership was formed. For more information, please visit and follow us on Twitter @LAB_150.


About MaRS Innovation

MaRS Innovation is a leading provider of commercialization services, early-stage funding, and deal-brokering with industry and private investors. As a member-based organization made up 15 Member institutions, MaRS Innovation’s mandate is to drive the commercialization of their most promising research breakthroughs. MaRS Innovation’s portfolio consists of early-stage assets and companies. Our team leverages its deep expertise and experience to mature our portfolio via important global and strategic partnerships. With an active portfolio of more than 40 companies which have raised in excess of $200M from global investors, and with the creation of more than 400 direct jobs, MaRS Innovation is truly a leader in the commercialization field. For more information please visit and follow us on Twitter @marsinnovation. Contact Susanne Staer, Manager, Corporate Affairs,; 647.260.7869.


About Evotec AG

Evotec is a drug discovery alliance and development partnership company focused on rapidly progressing innovative product approaches with leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, academics, patient advocacy groups and venture capitalists. We operate worldwide and our more than 2,400 employees provide the highest quality stand-alone and integrated drug discovery and development solutions. We cover all activities from target-to-clinic to meet the industry’s need for innovation and efficiency in drug discovery and development (EVT Execute). The Company has established a unique position by assembling top-class scientific experts and integrating state-of-the-art technologies as well as substantial experience and expertise in key therapeutic areas including neuronal diseases, diabetes and complications of diabetes, pain and inflammation, oncology, infectious diseases, respiratory diseases and fibrosis. On this basis, Evotec has built a broad and deep pipeline of approx. 100 co-owned product opportunities at clinical, pre-clinical and discovery stages (EVT Innovate). Evotec has established multiple long-term alliances with partners including Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Celgene, CHDI, Novartis, Novo Nordisk, Pfizer, Sanofi, Takeda, UCB and others. For additional information please go to and follow us on Twitter @EvotecAG.




Information set forth in this press release contains forward-looking statements, which involve a number of risks and uncertainties. The forward-looking statements contained herein represent the judgement of Evotec as of the date of this press release. Such forward-looking statements are neither promises nor guarantees, but are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond our control, and which could cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated in these forward-looking statements. We expressly disclaim any obligation or undertaking to release publicly any updates or revisions to any such statements to reflect any change in our expectations or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statement is based.


Krembil Senior Scientist Dr. Jeremy Sivak (pictured) is the second researcher to be selected for support from MaRS Innovation and Evotec’s LAB150 program.

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