MONTREAL, April 11, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ – Esperas Pharma Inc. (“Esperas”) today announced the initiation of a project to develop a new oral anticancer agent called ESP-01, in partnership with Quebec Clinical Research Organization in Cancer (Q-CROC). Esperas will develop ESP-01 in the province of Québec for the next three and a half years, in patients with advanced or metastatic cancer including metastatic triple-negative breast, colorectal or ovarian cancer. This project will support 20 employments including resources within Q-CROC. The project will begin with a first-in-man clinical trial, to determine the safety and efficacy of ESP-01, followed by Phase II clinical trials, to be conducted at major Montreal hospitals, the Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (“CHUM”), the Segal Cancer Center at the Jewish General Hospital (“JGH”) and the McGill University Hospital Center (“MUHC”) to which other Quebec centers may be added.
“We are pleased to collaborate with Esperas on this important clinical study,” said Dr. Gerald Batist, scientific director and co-founder of Q-CROC. “Through this partnership, we will realize our mission, which is to significantly improve the anti-cancer drug development ecosystem, to multiply patient treatment options, and to reduce the financial burden on the health care system through, in part, improvement of the clinical research infrastructure in Quebec.”
Esperas Pharma Inc. was founded in April 2015 by a US$16.5M financing led by TVM Life Science Ventures VII, a venture capital fund domiciled in Montréal, and co-investor Fonds de solidarité FTQ. Esperas acquired the worldwide rights to develop and commercialize ESP-01 from Eli Lilly and Company (Lilly). ESP-01 is an oral investigational medicine which specifically inhibits cancer cell division or unchecked proliferation.
“The management team of Esperas Pharma Inc. is delighted to initiate the development of this anticancer medicine in Québec and to provide Quebec cancer patients with first access to this promising development candidate. Furthermore, the company is proud to collaborate with the Q-CROC network and renowned centers such as the CHUM the JGH and the MUHC,” said Caroline Fortier, CEO of Esperas Pharma Inc.
“TVM Capital Life Science is proud to have secured the rights to ESP-01 and thereby founded Esperas right here in Quebec. We believe our investment model fosters partnerships that bring significant benefits to patients afflicted with diseases such as cancer,” said Dr. Marc Riviere, General Partner with TVM Capital Life Science and Board member of Esperas Pharma.
“In North America, Montréal is among the cities with the highest concentration of jobs in the life sciences and health technologies sector. We’re proud of the reputation Quebec’s largest city has earned in this field, and today’s announcement serves to further consolidate that position,” said Montréal Mayor Denis Coderre.
“The Fonds de solidarité FTQ congratulates Dr. Batist and his extended team at Q-CROC. By leveraging on its key three pillars, talent, R&D and service infrastructure, and access to capital, Québec develops and attracts new drug development programs such as the one announced today”, said Gaétan Morin, president and CEO of the Fonds de solidarité FTQ.