Industry Canada

Industry Canada

October 12, 2005 09:00 ET

Industry Canada: Minister Fontana Announces Support for Development of Anti-Inflammatory Therapies

LONDON, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Oct. 12, 2005) - The Honourable Joe Fontana, Minister of Labour and Housing, on behalf of the Honourable David L. Emerson, Minister of Industry, today announced a $4.9-million investment in the development of novel drug platforms to treat serious inflammatory-based diseases.

Viron Therapeutics Inc., based in London, Ontario, is the recipient of this Technology Partnerships Canada (TPC) investment. The investment is part of a broader $16.5-million program being undertaken by Viron to develop novel anti-inflammatory drugs and will enable the company to develop two key compounds to treat acute coronary syndromes, rheumatoid arthritis, and organ failure in transplant patients.

"The Government of Canada understands the need to support researchers as they forge ahead toward ground-breaking discoveries," said Minister Emerson. "This project promises a range of benefits - the most poignant of which is the potential to dramatically improve the quality of life and health of so many Canadians."

"This project is a perfect example of the benefits of innovation for Canadians," added Minister Fontana. "From improving the health of Canadians and our health care system, to creating high quality jobs and boosting our economy, innovative R&D is vital to our way of life."

Viron is a leader in the development of viral proteins to treat inflammation and has developed a group of compounds that have shown remarkable progress in being able to inhibit or interfere with abnormal inflammatory responses that cause disease. Viron's lead compound has just entered Phase 2 clinical trials to treat patients suffering from heart disease.

"We value this investment as it brings us much closer to being able to more effectively treat such debilitating diseases as heart attack and arthritis," said Neil K. Warma, President and CEO of Viron Therapeutics Inc. "By treating the underlying inflammation that is the cause of many of these conditions, these potent anti-inflammatories could change how we treat many diseases."

Advancement of Viron's viral protein technology could have a major positive impact on the Canadian health care system by reducing both the direct and indirect costs associated with hospitalization, rehabilitation, short- and long-term disability, and death. More importantly, it could dramatically improve the lives of patients with diseases that are currently inadequately treated by existing medications.

Technology Partnerships Canada (TPC) is a key instrument for advancing research and development toward commercialization. Working in partnership with innovative companies across Canada, TPC shares in the cost of private sector technology projects in aerospace and defence, in environmental technologies, and in enabling technologies such as information and communications technologies, and biotechnology.

The news release, backgrounder, and other documents are available on the Technology Partnerships Canada website at: http://www.tpc-ptc.ic.gc.ca.

Backgrounder

Viron Therapeutics receives investment from federal government to support novel drug development platform

Viron Therapeutics Inc. has received an investment of $4.9 million from Technology Partnerships Canada (TPC). This investment is part of a $16.5-million drug development program by Viron aimed at bringing two promising drugs closer to the reach of patients in need.

Viron is a pioneer in exploiting natural viral proteins as innovative drugs for the treatment of human disorders resulting from abnormal inflammatory responses, such as cardiovascular disease, transplant vasculopathy and rheumatoid arthritis. The company's lead compound, VT-111, has recently entered a Phase 2 clinical trial for Acute Coronary Syndrome and is also undergoing late pre-clinical studies for the treatment of transplant vasculopathy. Viron's additional pipeline of five compounds in pre-clinical development, combined with a robust discovery program, firmly position the company to be a leader in the treatment of inflammatory disorders.

With an aging population, the prevalence of inflammatory disorders is increasing at an alarming rate. In addition, as research advances in this field, there is a new recognition that diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and even Alzheimer's have significant inflammatory components. The combination of these demographic and research trends, as well as a recognition of the burden that inflammation-based disorders have on patient well-being and health care systems, makes inflammation an important area of medical research.

Viron identifies and develops viral proteins that naturally exhibit potent anti-inflammatory properties. Many viruses have evolved to withstand the body's initial inflammatory response by secreting highly specific, extremely potent proteins that neutralize key steps in the inflammatory cascade. In the same way that fungi have evolved to produce antibiotics, viruses have evolved to produce anti-inflammatory proteins. By identifying these proteins and their mechanisms of action, Viron has built a portfolio of very promising therapeutic candidates that act to neutralize numerous pro-inflammatory pathways.

Since its inception in London, Ontario, in 1997, Viron, a privately owned biopharmaceutical company, has been dedicated to the development of medicines that could be profoundly effective in alleviating pain and suffering caused by serious diseases. Viron is recognized, both in Canada and internationally, for pioneering a new approach to medical discovery and is the first company to advance a therapeutic viral protein into human clinical trials.

Contact Information

  • Office of the Honourable David L. Emerson
    Minister of Industry
    Christiane Fox
    (613) 995-9001
    or
    Industry Canada
    Media Relations
    (613) 943-2502