Pharma Focus Asia

BlueRock Therapeutics Expands Toronto Presence with R&D and Manufacturing Hub

Friday, August 18, 2017

BlueRock Therapeutics, which is developing cell-based therapies designed to alter the course of degenerative disease, today announces the expansion of the company's presence in Toronto with a research, development and manufacturing site in the MaRS Discovery District. BlueRock has formalized its broad research collaboration with the Toronto-based McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine at University Health Network (UHN), as well as its manufacturing partnership with the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM). Additionally, Michael Scott, Ph.D., has been appointed by BlueRock as senior vice president of product development and Toronto operations.

"We are tremendously excited about our rapidly expanding presence in Toronto, and the addition of Dr. Scott," said Emile Nuwaysir, Ph.D., president and CEO of BlueRock. "Our R&D model leverages collaborations with world-class stem cell and disease biology experts, and this UHN collaboration will allow us to work closely with leaders in the field to develop breakthrough cell therapies for patients suffering from heart failure. In addition, we have strengthened our strategic partnership with CCRM, which leverages not only their expertise, but also their new cGMP manufacturing facility to accelerate the buildout of BlueRock's manufacturing capabilities."

BlueRock's collaboration with UHN will initially focus on the development of cell therapies that can regenerate heart muscle in patients who have had a heart attack or are suffering from chronic heart failure. BlueRock will work in collaboration with its scientific co-founder Gordon Keller, Ph.D., director of the McEwen Centre, and founding investigator Michael A. Laflamme, M.D., Ph.D., senior scientist, UHN, to further advance and translate breakthrough science into novel therapies derived from human pluripotent stem cells. Through its sponsored research collaboration with UHN, BlueRock will also pursue the potential of its cell therapies in a broad array of additional disease indications.

BlueRock's research labs and centralized process development and manufacturing hub will be in a 10,000 square-foot state-of-the-art facility located just steps away from the CCRM cGMP manufacturing facility within Toronto's MaRS Discovery District. BlueRock's Toronto team is expected to move into the space later this year. The proximity of the BlueRock-UHN research collaboration to the CCRM manufacturing facility will make translation to clinical manufacture more straightforward, stepping up to clinical production levels as early as 2018.

The appointment of Michael Scott, Ph.D., as BlueRock's senior vice president of product development brings to the company an entrepreneurial leader with more than 20 years of experience in the field of cardiovascular medical devices and in the stem cell therapeutics landscape. In addition to overseeing BlueRock's Toronto operations, Dr. Scott will be part of the team focused on development of a cell therapy platform for delivery of dopaminergic neurons to treat Parkinson's disease and cardiomyocytes to treat congestive heart failure. Prior to joining BlueRock, Dr. Scott served as chief development officer & vice president of R&D at ViaCyte, a clinical stage biotechnology company focused on the treatment of type I diabetes with a stem cell-based therapy product. Before ViaCyte, Dr. Scott was responsible for surgical heart valve therapy programs driving clinical trials at Edwards Lifesciences, and was the vice president of R&D at Orqis Medical, focused on treatment of congestive heart failure. He received a Ph.D. in medical biophysics from The University of Western Ontario, and masters and bachelor's degrees in civil engineering from the University of Waterloo. Dr. Scott is part of a rapidly growing BlueRock team in Toronto, and the company expects the team to reach more than 30 members within a year.

"Joining the BlueRock team is a tremendous opportunity for me to be part of a company that has a groundbreaking vision of developing new products intended to transform medical care much in the same way that therapeutic monoclonal antibodies did," said Dr. Scott. "I look forward to working with our premier scientific collaborators, as well as returning to my Canadian roots and integrating into the vibrant Toronto community."

BlueRock launched in December 2016 through a $225 M Series A investment from Bayer AG and Versant Ventures, who support BlueRock's vision to create breakthrough cell therapies. While the company's platform approach can potentially be applied to many disease areas, BlueRock is initially focused on Parkinson's and cardiac disease.

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