Cuprous Pharmaceuticals produces copper-based therapeutics (CBTs) that are soluble and safe to inject. Their Metaplex™ technology, validated for anti-cancer therapeutics, further enables the development of treatments that were previously impossible to investigate in pre-clinical and clinical settings.
Copper based therapeutics have significant potential for application in a wide range of disease indications including cancer, bacterial infections, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Although possibilities exist, no CBT is currently approved for medical use in humans, due to their poor solubility.
The reason solubility is so important? Intravenous administration of pharmaceuticals tends to be the most effective way to combat diseases that spread throughout the body. “In advanced cancer, for example, where the disease has spread to a number of sites in the body,the best way to gain access is through the blood system,” comments Dr. Marcel Bally, Co-Founder and CSO.
Cuprous Pharmaceuticals’ Metaplex innovation technology is focused on making this possibility a reality. So far, the team has validated its use for the administration of CBTs into animals.
“Our company is focused on an unmet need in the pharmaceutical industry,” comments Thomas Redelmeider, Co-Founder and CEO of Cuprous. There are a lot of new chemical entities being developed, which are very difficult to handle in experimental settings. We’re improving the solubility of compounds, making them pharmaceutically relevant,” he says.
The venture was started in September of last year, with a portion coming out of the PhD research completed by Moe Wehbe at UBC. Thomas and Marcel met as graduate students and post doc researchers over 30 years ago, then the two met Michael Abrams, their Vice President of Research, through interactions at the Centre for Drug Research Development (CDRD). Co- Founder Ada Leung joined the team while completing her PhD in Marcel’s lab, contributing to the technology through additional project work.
“There appears to be this class of drugs that are metal complexes which look really interesting from a therapeutic perspective, for a number of disease indications,” comments Michael. “Many suffer from a central problem–you can make them, but you can’t administer them. We uncovered a way to make it much easier to administer these drugs; enabling a new class of therapeutics that hasn’t been enabled before.”
So far, the biggest challenges that the team has faced has been keeping their focus in the face of a wide-range of possibilities, and identifying the right business opportunities for commercialization.
“We have a technology that helps improve solubility and formulation of molecules–a challenge for me is that there are so many different areas that we could pursue. We decided we’re not going to develop new molecules from scratch–we’ve been focusing on identifying those opportunities we can bring Cuprous into, where pharma and biotech companies are struggling due to solubility issues,” Michael says.
How does Cuprous stand out? In the quality of their technology, the expertise of their team, and the fact that this space has seen little development in over 15 years.
“Both Marcel and Thomas have worked in this area for the better part of 30 years. Technology is often used in this space, but it’s technology that was developed 15-20 years ago. It’s fair to say that with this recent innovation, we can solve problems that can’t be solved by alternative approaches,” he says.
Every step forward that Cuprous takes has been exciting for the team, with many milestones worth celebrating. Marcel commented: “Every step that we take is an accomplishment–forming the company, moving forward in this competition, getting into a chemistry journal.
“The technology is there, the patent submitted and, for the first time ever in my lab, we’re working with bacteria.
“Like with any startup, everything we do is interesting and new.”
About Cuprous Pharmaceuticals
Thomas Redelmeider, Founder, CEO
Prior to joining Cuprous, Dr. Redelmeier was the President & CEO of Transferra Nanosciences (formerly known as Northern Lipids). He led the company for 20 years, transforming it into a leader in the provision of Contract Research/Manufacturing services specifically related to lipid nanoparticle formulations of active pharmaceutical ingredients. The company was sold to EVONIK in 2016, where it continues to be active in this area.
Dr. Redelmeier has more than 30 years of experience studying lipid nanoparticle systems including 20 years at Transferra where he was involved with more than 30 programs that were in preclinical and/or clinical development. He completed his PhD studies at the University of British Columbia, working with Dr. Pieter Cullis. He is the author of more than 25 peer reviewed papers, and has co-authored a book on Percutaneous Absorption (Karger 1996).
Marcel Bally, Founder, CSO
Dr. Bally is Head and Distinguished Scientist of the Department of Experimental Therapeutics at the BC Cancer Agency. As an independent researcher with experience in academia and industry, he has focused his career on development of much needed novel drugs, drug combinations and drug delivery systems designed for use in patients with metastatic cancer. He has generated over 550 scientific articles, abstracts, book chapters and patents that have been cited over 17,400 times. He has been a PI/Co-PI on grants valued at over $50M and he has participated in private sector funding for companies that he co-founded (Lipex, Inex (now Arbutus), Northern Lipids (renamed Transferra and purchased by Evonik in 2016), Celator (purchased by Jazz in 2016 for $1.4 billion) and most recently Cuprous Pharmaceuticals. This effort resulted in three clinically approved drugs: Myocet®- for metastatic breast cancer, Marqibo®- for relapsed ALL, and CPX-351 (VYXEOS™) which some believe will replace the standard of care for high risk AML.
Michael Abrams, Vice President, Research
Dr. Abrams was the former President and CEO of Inimex Pharmaceuticals Inc., Chief Innovation Officer and VP for Research and Development at CDRD Ventures Inc., and Managing Director of Arbutus Biopharma Corporation. Abrams completed his PhD in Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has extensive experience working in biotechnology companies and commercialization of pharmaceutical products. Dr. Abrams was the founding CEO of AnorMED Inc. and led that company for 10 years. AnorMED developed the FDA-approved stem cell mobilizing drug, Mozobil, and was acquired by Genzyme in 2006 for over $500M.
Ada Leung, Founder, Mitacs Elevate Fellow
Dr. Leung is an inventor of the Metaplex technology. She completed her PhD at the University of British Columbia; where she was awarded a prestigious Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship. During her PhD, she contributed to over 10 peer-reviewed publications. Her thesis work involved identifying and validating novel targets that could be used to enhance platinum-based chemotherapy against non-small cell lung cancer. In the final years of her PhD, Dr. Leung undertook another project which contributed to the development of the Metaplex technology. She is currently a Mitacs Elevate Fellow (supervised by Dr. Chris Orvig (UBC), which is co-funded by Cuprous. Working with Dr. Orvig and Dr. Abrams she is broadening her knowledge in metal chemistry and commercialization of technology in the life sciences sector.
Contact Cuprous Pharmaceuticals