YORKbiotech Inc. Announces Winners of Sanofi Pasteur Healthcare & Biotechnology Venture Challenge 2010

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Top prize of $7500 awarded for RNA Disruption Assay (RDA), a diagnostic technology for cancer chemotherapy management.

The sanofi pasteur Healthcare and Biotechnology Venture Challenge (HBVC) 2010 top prize went to Rna Diagnostics Inc. The company is developing a diagnostic technology for cancer chemotherapy management called RNA Disruption Assay (RDA). The team, comprised of scientists Amadeo Parissenti and Ken Pritzker, and MBA students Navneet Budhia, Jose Gene and Ivan Guisao from the Schulich School of Business, York University, was awarded $7,500 and a business advisory package provided by MaRS Business Services valued at $2,500. The RDA technology is a powerful tool that aims to radically improve the evaluation of treatment failure during chemo therapy administration in cancer patients. RDA enables doctors to recommend either a continuance of chemotherapy, or its suspension in non-responding patients, sparing the patients of potentially fatal toxic side effects of the ineffective drugs.

The second place award of $5,000 went to ImTec Therapeutics Inc, a start-up biotechnology company committed to pioneering innovative, targeted immunotherapeutics for the treatment of human cancers. The team pitched a lead compound Zaptuzumab to the judges in this competition. Zaptuzumab, a unique product, specifically induces programmed cell death only in cancer cells and, in mouse models, has shown to kill multiple types of cancers with minimal toxicity to normal human tissues. The team included scientists John Li and Yong Zheng and MBA students Elena Nesterova and Jan Noupbaev.

The OAISYS team was awarded third place and a cash prize of $2,500 for a Knee Surgery Triage (KST) tool to help general practitioners (GP) diagnose the severity of patients’ knee’s arthritic stage. GPs who apply the index created by the KST tool can make informed referrals to better manage knee surgery waitlists. The team comprised of scientists Michael Brean and Derek Cooke, and MBA students Arnav Diwan, Aaron D’Souza and Shruti Madhukar.

The sanofi pasteur HBVC, organized by YORKbiotech and the Schulich School of Business at York University, invites Schulich MBA students to create commercialization plans with researchers, scientists or inventors of viable healthcare technologies. During the competition, the teams are supported by mentors from the industry and faculty members from the Schulich School of Business.

In the final event held at the Markham Convergence Centre on November 30, 2010 the top three teams short-listed from a larger pool of competitors presented their plans to a panel of judges for the chance to win over $15,000 in prizes.

The panel of judges included Peter Pekos, President and CEO of Dalton Pharma Services, Grant Tipler, Head, Life Sciences, Royal Bank of Canada and Gavin Zealey, Senior Director, Corporate Development, Sanofi Pasteur Limited.

Collaboration between the business and scientific community is the goal of this competition, according to Janet LeClair, Chief Administrative Officer of YORKbiotech Inc. “The competition provides students with the tools to collaborate for new ventures, and researchers can submit their commercialization plans from the HBVC to other grant competitions,” LeClair said. “This competition shows us that York Region has a very impressive talent pool and we want to continue to tap into that talent to build an entrepreneurial culture.”

Sanofi Pasteur was the Gold Sponsor for the competition. MaRS, Regional Muncipality of York and Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) were Silver Sponsors, and Dalton Pharma Services the the Town of Markham were Bronze Sponsors of the competition.


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