SpecificiT wins seed funding for its cancer treatment therapy


While Montreal’s status as a world leader in AI has been occupying everyone’s attention, the city’s biopharmaceutical sector has been making impressive strides as well. Clementia Pharmaceuticals, Repare Therapeutics, and Milestone Pharmaceuticals are just a few examples of companies that have made a splash in the past year.

Now we can add SpecificiT to that list, as they announced today the closing of a seed round, with funding from AmorChem, Sanderling, and Accel-Rx.

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SpecificiT Pharma Inc., a privately held biopharmaceutical company focused on developing innovative personalized hematological cancer immunotherapies, said that the undisclosed seed round will be used to move forward manufacturing, process development, and the addition of key management.

Additionally, Pierre Beauparlant, Ph.D., Venture Partner at Sanderling Ventures, will assume the role of Chief Executive Officer of the company.

The company is developing cellular therapies for hematological cancers which, to date, cannot be treated with Chimeric Receptor Antigen of T cells (CAR-T) therapies. SpecificiT’s approach centers on the use of Minor Histocompatability Antigens (“MiHAs”), which enable donor T-cells to be safely directed to eliminate cancer cells following allogeneic hematopoietic ell transplantation (AHCT).

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The identification of these antigens, the elucidation of their potential use and their translation into the clinical is the result of the collaborative work of Dr. Claude Perreault, Dr. Denis-Claude Roy, Dr. Jean-Sébastien Delisle, Dr. Pierre Thibault and their respective teams at the Université de Montréal’s Institut de recherche en immunologie et en cancérologie and at the Centre intégré universitaire en santé et en services sociaux de l’Est-de-l’Ile-de-Montréal.

“We welcome our new partners, Sanderling Ventures and Accel-Rx,” said Inès Holzbaur, Ph.D., General Partner at AmorChem. “Their steadfast support has been much appreciated over the past months and their investment is a tribute to the quality of the work executed by the research team we first financed in 2013.”

This new therapy will first be used in patients with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). The current treatment for AML is plagued by a high rate of graft versus host disease (GVHD), resulting in severe side effects in 50% of patients. SpecificiT’s therapy is expected to improve efficacy, reduce costs by eliminating GVHD, and increase the number of patients eligible for the treatment.

“SpecificiT has the potential to revolutionize the treatment of very aggressive hematological cancers with a truly innovative and individualized approach. At Sanderling, we believe that Precision Medicine represents a significant opportunity to develop better medicines for patients who, up until now, had very limited options,” said Dr. Pierre Beauparlant. He added, “I am excited to join a dynamic team of international leaders in immune-oncology to develop much needed solutions for patients.”

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“With the support of our institutions, IRICoR and our funders, we have developed a repertoire of MiHAs that enables immunotherapy of the vast majority of blood cancers and overcomes any limitations linked to intratumoral heterogeneity,” says Dr. Claude Perreault. “Working with SpecificiT, we look forward to enabling more patients to benefit from our discoveries.”

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