Fusion Pharmaceuticals is a McMaster University startup company based at the McMaster Innovation Park. The biotech company uses alpha particle emitting medical isotopes in targeted radiotherapy for cancer.
Fusion is a spinout from the Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization (CPDC). Founder, CEO and Director, Dr. John Valliant, Ph.D. of Fusion Pharmaceuticals also founded the CPDC in 2008. Dr. Valliant is a Canada Research Chair in Medical Isotopes and Molecular Imaging Probes and a Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at McMaster University. CSO Dr. Eric Burak, Ph.D. previously worked at CPDC, Theracos, Rib-X Pharmaceuticals and Guilford Pharmaceuticals.
Alpha particles, emitted by certain medical isotopes, are highly energetic and deposit their energy over distances as short as the width of a single cell. Alpha emitting isotopes delivered to cancer cells kill tumor cells through mechanisms such as double stranded DNA breaks.
Fusion is using molecules such as antibodies, with potent alpha emitting isotopes to target cancer precisely and induce cancer cell death. The short distance that alpha particles travel enables them to localize radiation to the tumor. Fusion’s protein discovery platform is being used to screen for new targeting molecules to localize alpha medical isotope treatments. Fusion’s lead program FPX-01 is an antibody-targeting radiotherapy which targets IGF-1R, a biomarker of resistance present in almost all types of cancer that are refractory to treatment. The technology delivers actinium-225 to tumor cells.
Medical isotopes that are not specifically bound to cancer cells are excreted due to Fusion's proprietary Fast-ClearTM Technology Platform. The Fast-ClearTM Linker is a "connector" between a molecule and a medical isotope that is engineered to clear more medical isotope at a rate that is faster compared to commercial technologies. Fusion's technology is aimed at expanding the therapeutic window and potentially allowing a more safe and effective therapy. The excretion route and kinetics for different targeting molecule can be optimized with Fusion's library of proprietary linkers. The company is applying their technology to a range of molecules such as antibodies and small molecules.
Series A financing of $25 million was led by Johnson & Johnson Innovation in 2017 and included investments from HealthCap, TPG Biotech, Genesys Capital and FACIT. In April, 2019 the company secured US$105 million in financing, which at the time was one of the largest single private investments in Canadian biotech history.
Eric Burak, Ph.D.
John F. Valliant, Ph.D.
Founder, CEO, Director