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Known for its diverse population and iconic skyline, Toronto is also the birthplace of the electron microscope, insulin, and pacemakers. And on a quiet side street south of the University of Toronto, one growing biotechnology company aims to contribute to the city’s entrepreneurial legacy.

 AmacaThera is a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing a novel injectable material that promises to help address a variety of clinical conditions. Founded in 2016 and grounded in the research of world-renowned biomaterials scientist, Dr. Molly Shoichet, the company sits at the intersection of biomaterials, regenerative medicine, and pharmaceuticals.

The company’s novel material is a platform based on a hydrogel (a gel in which the liquid component is water), which is designed to be injected and deliver long-lasting treatments with a variety of therapeutic applications. When the given material is injected, it forms a local depot in the body from which the therapeutic is slowly released. This approach to drug delivery results in a sustained release and extended efficacy. Potential applications include post-surgical pain management, cancer, and other hard-to-reach areas, such as the brain.

 The first of the company’s products to reach clinical trials, AMT-143, is an anesthetic combined with the hydrogel for postoperative pain relief that can be applied at the time of surgery. Patients eventually receiving its slow-release formulation would ideally experience pain relief for up to 72 hours, giving clinicians an alternative to dependency-forming opioids. AMT-143 is currently undergoing a Phase I clinical trial.

“Our long-term goal is to revolutionize the range of treatment options available to patients in multiple areas,” says Dr. Mike J. Cooke, AmacaThera’s co-founder and CEO. “It’s an exciting time to be in drug development. The unique pairing of our material combined with therapeutics has never been tested together in humans before. We are excited to advance AMT-143 through clinical trials while applying our lessons learned to other assets from the laboratory.”

 While AmacaThera has international investors, the company has benefited from Toronto’s flourishing entrepreneurial ecosystem. Its founders, Dr. Shoichet and Dr. Cooke, began collaborating while working at the University of Toronto and received guidance from several Toronto-based accelerators, including the University of Toronto’s EarlyStage Technology (UTEST) accelerator, Creative Destruction Lab (CDL), and Ontario Bioscience Innovation Organization (OBIO), along with intellectual property support from Toronto Innovation Acceleration Partners (TIAP) that enabled the company’s creation.

Several Canadian venture capitalists have also shown their support for AmacaThera, including Lumira Ventures, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), StandUp Ventures, North Spring Capital Partners, MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund (IAF), and Waterloo Student Venture Fund (SVF).

 AmacaThera’s first product, AMT-143 is focused on post-operative pain. However, since this platform technology is compatible with a wide range of therapeutic types, AMT-143 is just the first indication of where AmacaThera and its revolutionary products could be applied.

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