Amgen, Takeda join intracellular delivery R&D collaboration

The Feldan Shuttle project is also backed by Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline and Janssen, as well as the Quebec government. (Wikimedia Commons)

Amgen and Takeda have signed on to a Canadian research consortium to help develop a novel drug delivery technology that aims to help transport proteins directly into cells, with both ex vivo and in vivo applications.

The peptide-based project, spearheaded by Quebec-based Feldan Therapeutics, has demonstrated uses in a variety of cell types in animal models, as well as in organs such as the eyes, lungs and brain.

Dubbed the Feldan Shuttle, it has delivered active CRISPR nucleases, transcription factors, antibodies and enzymes—with the ultimate goal of providing a direct intracellular therapy route or the manufacture of cell-based treatments.

Funded in part by CQDM, a public-private biopharma research consortium, the so-called Quantum Leap project is also backed by Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline and Janssen, as well as the Quebec government. In addition to financial support, each company can nominate one of their senior scientists to mentor the project’s research team through the technology’s development.

“Amgen’s biotechnology products originating from our Canadian laboratories could benefit significantly from Feldan’s novel drug delivery technologies, which is an example of the important innovation coming from Quebec’s Life Sciences sector,” Amgen’s Philip Tagari, vice president of therapeutic discovery, said in a statement.

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Amgen and Takeda both joined the CQDM consortium in 2018, with the Feldan Shuttle being their first project. With CQDM’s support plus a $13.8 million series A last November, Feldan aims to begin clinical trials in 2021.

“As one of Canada’s fastest-growing pharmaceutical companies, continuing our participation in CQDM and supporting initiatives like the Quantum Leap project underscores the importance of Takeda’s commitment to supporting a strong life sciences sector in Quebec," said Gamze Yüceland, general manager of Takeda Canada.

The Quebec government, meanwhile, aims to attract at least 4 billion Canadian dollars, or about $3 billion U.S., in private investment by 2022.

“There is no doubt that these partnerships will generate significant spin-offs,” said Pierre Fitzgibbon, minister of economy and innovation. “This announcement is a perfect indication that we are on the right track.”