Too many companies and small businesses to count were buried under the avalanche of a global pandemic in the past 18 months. And as horrible as it was to lose your favorite restaurant or dry cleaner, imagine the impact of losing a company that had devoted itself to enhancing the lives of women with breast cancer. Fortunately, due to some investment creativity and all-out perseverance, BriaCell Therapeutics Corp. (Nasdaq: BCTX) (Nasdaq: BCTXW) (TSX-V: BCT) has survived and is thriving.
BriaCell’s mission since 2014 has been to develop novel immunotherapies to fight cancer, with immunotherapies moving to the forefront of cancer treatments because they use the body’s immune system to destroy cancer cells. The process offers the potential for higher levels of safety and efficacy than chemotherapy and may also prevent cancer recurrence.
But for a company like BriaCell, all the good research, technology, and intentions in the world can’t replace a lack of funding, which almost felled the company in 2020.
“We were raising money, and COVID hit in early 2020. We were disappointed to see that there were challenges in terms of finding financial support for non-COVID-19 related drug development projects. We persevered and were able to secure funding to further develop our cancer therapeutic product candidates,” William V. Williams, MD, Briacell’s President and CEO, told Benzinga. “We were getting little loans here and there to stay alive and finally we were able to raise money and uplist to NASDAQ in February 2021. We then decided to move our lab to the east coast and made the great decision to hire Dr. Miguel Lopez-Lago as our Senior Director of R&D.”
Miguel Lopez-Lago, Ph.D. was a cancer scientist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in N.Y., and Dr. Williams credits the company’s decision to bring him on board in 2021 as the trigger for the company not only to continue its work but to have the right people in place to make Briacell one of the most innovative and unique companies in the cancer research space.
Years of Innovation
BriaCell was built off the technology developed in the early 2000s by Dr. Charles Wiseman, who specialized in developing cellular immunotherapies for cancer. The therapies were initially designed to treat various tumor types, but he had noticed one specifically that was highly effective called SV-BR-1. He then genetically modified it to make a molecule eventually referred to as GM-CSF – also called Bria-IMT™.
Again, a lack of funding almost doomed the research, but company leaders found a way of engineering a reverse takeover and formed Briacell in late 2014. Williams joined the company in 2016 and soon got positive results, which gave the company something to build on. BriaCell, and were able to successfully listed the company on Nasdaq exchange in 2021.
The Road Ahead
“We have something that works, that distinguishes us from a lot of people because we’ve seen some very positive results in several different patients who have extremely advanced breast cancer and have failed multiple prior treatments,” Dr. Williams said. “Our approach is unique in that we have ways of selecting the patients that other people have not used previously. This novel approach lets us target the patients who are most likely to benefit from our therapy. We also have already achieved proof of concept.”
In collaboration with Incyte Corporation (NASDAQ: INCY), BriaCell currently has a non-exclusive clinical trial collaboration to evaluate the effects of combinations of novel clinical candidates. Under the agreement, Incyte and BriaCell will be evaluating novel combinations of compounds from Incyte’s development portfolio with BriaCell’s drug candidates in advanced breast cancer patients.
BriaCell’s ability to survive as a business is also directly related to research improving the lives and survival rate of the 3.1 million women in the U.S. who have a history of invasive breast cancer.
For more information on Briacell Therapeutics Corp., please go to www.briacell.com.
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