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McMaster spinoff company receives $105M in funding for cancer therapy research

Fusion CEO and chemistry professor John Valliant and Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Merrilee Fullerton. Lisa Polewski / 900 CHML

A biopharmaceutical company that was founded at McMaster University is getting a multi-million-dollar boost in funding toward cancer therapy research.

Fusion Pharmaceuticals, which is based at McMaster Innovation Park (MIP) and is a spinoff of McMaster’s Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization, has received US$105 million from international investors for its cancer treatment clinical trials. That funding is on top of earlier investments of $46 million.

Merrilee Fullerton, Ontario’s minister of training, colleges and universities, said it’s the largest single investment ever in a Canadian startup and one of the largest single private investments in Canadian biotech.

“What Fusion Pharmaceuticals has done to further advancements in cancer research and innovative cancer treatments is truly remarkable and commendable,” said Fullerton, who has a background in medicine.

Lisa Polewski / 900 CHML

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger speaks with Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Merrilee Fullerton following the announcement.

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Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger said this is a huge investment that will create more jobs in the city.

“This is the very thing that MIP was actually designed to do, which is create that research facility that allows people the space to create new products and new ideas and then have them manufactured right here in Hamilton and create that additional employment,” said Eisenberger.

“Right now, they employ about 100 people through this research, the Fusion company, and as they ramp [up] production, the employment numbers will continue to go up.”

John Valliant, Fusion CEO and professor of chemistry and biological chemistry at McMaster, said the funding will allow the company to broaden its team by hiring more than 100 people in a variety of areas, from science to manufacturing.

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He added that Fusion’s main research surrounds a drug that is designed to seek out and infiltrate cancer cells to deliver a strong and highly localized dose of radiation that aims to keep the cancer cells from growing back.

“It should work for all cancers — lung cancer, brain cancer, prostate, breast,” said Valliant. “It’s really not about one cancer type. It’s about going after cancer cells.”

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The first clinical trial is already underway with sites in Hamilton and Montreal, and more trials are expected to be added around the world.

“It’s going to be a global trial. Cancer is a global problem, and so a solution here in Hamilton is rolling out to the world.”

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Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Merrilee Fullerton is given a tour of the existing Fusion Pharmaceuticals facilities at McMaster Innovation Park. Lisa Polewski / 900 CHML

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