SickKids spin-off will seek new treatments for diabetes

    Approach anything but complacent

    TORONTO, June 26 /CNW/ - A breakthrough understanding in the cause of
Type 1 diabetes and critical aspects of Type 2 diabetes that may lead to new
treatments for the disease has been licensed to a spin-off company, Afference
Therapeutics Inc. based in Toronto.
    The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) signed an exclusive license
with Afference to accelerate development of the technology and commercialize
new treatments for the disease. The discovery was published in the journal
Cell last December by Dr. Hans Michael Dosch, senior scientist at SickKids
Research Institute and professor of Paediatrics and Immunology at the
University of Toronto and Dr. Michael Salter, senior scientist at SickKids
Research Institute, professor of Physiology and director of the Centre for the
Study of Pain at the University of Toronto.
    "As the Conference Board of Canada's recent report clearly shows,
innovation matters," says SickKids President & CEO Mary Jo Haddad. "Our
approach is all about the edge innovation gives Canada. By entering into this
licensing agreement with Afference, we will avoid the 'David-Goliath
partnership' that economist William Baumol describes, and instead follow the
journey from bench to bedside right here at home."
    The agreement between SickKids and Afference includes the licensed
patents, technology, and intellectual property related to neuropeptides and
sensory (pain) nerves, as well as future patents generated by the research
    Lorne Meikle, a leader in biotechnology initiatives in Toronto and
Canada, joins Afference Therapeutics as CEO. A native of Edmonton, Meikle has
been active in the healthcare, pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical field for
more than 30 years. Responsible for developing Ontario's biotechnology
strategic plan, Meikle was founding president of BioCatalyst Yorkton Inc., a
venture management company specializing in the initiation and management of
early-stage healthcare companies including GeneSense-now part of Lorus
Therapuetics, and BCY LifeSciences. After chairing Bio 2002's executive
committee he joined the board of Toronto Biotechnology Initiative (TBI), and
served as its president for three years and as a director for BIOTECanada.
    "We set up Afference to rapidly develop an area where we have the
capacity and skills to make a difference," says Dosch, who is also a founder
and chief scientific officer of Afference. "Lorne's leadership and his proven
track record are tremendous assets. We are thinking big. We are excited about
the opportunity for innovation in medicine, and for improving lives."
    The SickKids research group has long been pursuing links between
diabetes--a disorder which affects two million Canadians--and the nervous
system. Late last year the group found an unsuspected control circuit between
insulin-producing islets and their associated sensory or pain nerves. This
circuit sustains normal islet function and is abnormal in animal models of the
disease. The team developed therapeutic strategies to reset this control
circuit, reversing new-onset Type 1 diabetes as well as normalizing insulin
resistance in Type 2 diabetes models, literally overnight and without unwanted
side effects.
    Their research was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health
Research, the Alberta Heritage Foundation, Banting & Best Diabetes Centre, the
Heart & Stroke Foundation of Ontario, the Canadian Arthritis Network, the
Canadian MS Society and SickKids Foundation. The team's dynamic next steps
include human sensory nerve studies, DNA sequencing projects and patient
treatment trials within less than two years.
    The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), affiliated with the University
of Toronto, is Canada's most research-intensive hospital and the largest
centre dedicated to improving children's health in the country. As innovators
in child health, SickKids improves the health of children by integrating care,
research and teaching. Our mission is to provide the best in complex and
specialized care by creating scientific and clinical advancements, sharing our
knowledge and expertise and championing the development of an accessible,
comprehensive and sustainable child health system. For more information,
please visit SickKids is committed to healthier children for
a better world.

For further information:

For further information: please contact: Shelley Romoff, The Hospital
for Sick Children,(416) 813-5046,; for Afference:
Keith Bullen, HarbourCastle Capital Inc., (416) 350-2794,

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