TORONTO—FACIT, a commercialization venture group, and the University of Toronto (U of T) have announced the creation of Ontario-based Cellular Analytics. Cellular Analytics is founded upon a proprietary microfluidic platform that enables molecular characterization of cancer at the level of single circulating tumour cells. The technology quantitatively detects sensitivity to immune-oncology agents “on-chip” at both significantly lower sample volumes and at a fraction of the cost.
The platform, with an initial application in lung cancer, was discovered at the U of T lab of Dr. Shana Kelley. The professor and serial entrepreneur will act as the chief scientific officer of Cellular Analytics.
“Dr. Kelley’s technology is rapid, exquisitely accurate and inexpensive, which positions the Company well for clinical application across a range of cancers and competing in the diagnostics market,” said Dr. David O’Neill, president, FACIT. “Partnering with the University of Toronto on exciting new biotechnology companies like Cellular Analytics is aligned with FACIT and OICR’s joint strategy to support entrepreneurship and translate the benefits of research to patients and the Ontario economy.”
Seed capital from FACIT’s Compass Rose Oncology Fund — which invests in Ontario-based breakthrough innovations in oncology — will be used to develop the non-invasive, commercial prototype of Cellular Analytics’ lead product. This capital will also allows Cellular Analytics to maintain its momentum and continue strategic discussions with potential partners and investors to attract follow-on financing.
To strengthen and anchor companies to the province, FACIT provides transition executive management through its Executive-in-Residence (EIR) program. Dr. Brent Zanke, a FACIT EIR and experienced commercial diagnostics expert in oncology, helped lead the formation of Cellular Analytics, and will transition to the role of president and CEO.
“The essence of precision medicine demands more sensitive and flexible diagnosis to accompany every new experimental therapy. Our CytoFind platform delivers on these challenges with unprecedented fidelity,” remarked Zanke.
Cellular Analytics will be a resident at Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JLABS @ Toronto, with additional in-kind support from FACIT and the Creative Destruction Labs (CDL).
“Congratulations to FACIT and U of T on this exciting new venture. The creation of this new company is a perfect example of how Ontario First capital can help bring the ground-breaking work being done at our world-class postsecondary institutions to market — helping to strengthen the province’s economy and generate innovation outcomes from the province’s top-tier scientific discoveries,” added Ross Romano, Ontario’s Minister of Colleges and Universities.