May 29, 2012


Actium Research and McMaster University Collaborate to Commercialize Stem Cell Technologies


Arrangement pairs one of Canada’s most successful biotech executive teams with academic discovery engine to address the need for better drugs targeting cancer stem cells and regenerative medicine


Hamilton, Ont. May 29, 2012Actium Research Inc., (“Actium” or the “Company”) Toronto, and McMaster University (“McMaster“), Hamilton, have entered into a landmark collaboration covering McMaster’s proprietary adult human stem cell lines, cancer stem cells and the directed differentiation platform developed by Dr. Mick Bhatia and his team at the McMaster Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute (“The Stem Cell Institute”). Together these technologies and the expertise at The Stem Cell Institute provide leading edge tools for drug discovery and better treatments for serious illnesses.


Actium is a drug discovery and development company targeting two types of stem cells; cancer stem cells to improve survival and health outcomes and normal tissue stem cells to promote healing and address the need for cure in chronic diseases. Actium was founded by Dr. David Young and Helen Findlay. Dr. Bhatia joined as the scientific founder in 2012.  The team will put their experience with managing drug discovery platforms, development pathways and product pipelines to work to build Actium into a leading biotech company.   

Previously, Dr. David Young and Ms Helen Findlay were uniquely successful in creating ARIUS Research Inc. (“ARIUS”), a public biotech company, trading on the TSX, specializing in the discovery and development of therapeutic cancer antibodies based entirely on technology developed in its own research labs. ARIUS’ FunctionFIRST™ technology was partnered with leading companies such as Takeda Pharmaceuticals, Japan’s largest drug company, Genentech, the leader in cancer antibodies, and Protein Design Labs, a pioneer in antibody humanization. These and other partnerships represented over $400 million of value. ARIUS was a singular financial success story in Canada. The sale of the company to Roche in 2008 generated a five times return on capital, cash on cash, representing the largest return to date for investors in a Canadian biotech company. More importantly, the company created the first specific cancer stem cell drug to enter human clinical trials. The company was well recognized for its accomplishments: it was named as a top 50 company by the TSX Venture Exchange in 2005, a top 10 company by Ottawa Life Sciences Council in 2006, and Biotech Company of the Year by BioteCanada in 2009.


“After we founded Actium we were presented with many interesting technologies looking for commercialization support.” said David Young, Actium CEO. “Ontario has a wealth of great researchers and I think with Dr. Mick Bhatia’s leadership and the support from the community, the Stem Cell Institute at McMaster stands at the forefront. Much has been written about Canada’s commercialization gap and desperate need to move our research from the bench into the clinic so that we benefit from medical innovation both as patients and as a society. The federal government placed a lot of emphasis on addressing this gap in the most recent budget and our agreement with McMaster represents a great example of academia working with the private sector to achieve these goals. Actium is pleased to join the other companies and groups working to see Ontario’s medical research advanced to provide our physicians with new tools to achieve better outcomes.”

McMaster University is committed to creating collaborations that help accelerate the pace intellectual property is transferred from its labs and to the marketplace, where it will have the greatest impact.


“This specific initiative will assist us in doing just that,” said Mo Elbestawi, McMaster Vice-President, Research and International Affairs.  “These discoveries from Dr. Bhatia’s lab show great promise and we’re delighted with his efforts to commercialize the results of his research, from which many will benefit.”


Initially, Actium will develop anti-cancer stem cell drugs that are directed against a newly identified cancer stem cell marker in leukemia and breast cancer. Cancer stem cells are a unique group of cells within a tumor that do not respond to conventional therapies and may be responsible for cancers that spread or that return after treatment. The company will also work through research agreements with McMaster and The Stem Cell Institute to identify drugs that cause “normal” stem cells to become specialized as different tissue types to promote healing. In addition, the Actium strategy includes accessing technologies that expand drug development capabilities or fill pipeline gaps. The overall development strategy is guided by principles of pipeline management where projects compete with each other for resources, and allocations are made according to success-based performance metrics. “This is the most efficient way to allocate resources to the compounds with the best chances of becoming breakthrough drugs. In this horse race the winners go on to the next race until a champion is crowned”, said Dr. Bhatia, Actium Chief Scientific Officer. 



About McMaster University and the McMaster Industry Liaison Office


McMaster University, one of four Canadian universities listed among the Top 100 universities in the world, is renowned for its innovation in both learning and discovery.  With a research income of more than $395 million, McMaster ranks second in research intensity among Canadian universities.  It is home to more than 23,000 students, 1,300 faculty members, and 70 world-class research centres and institutes.  Through the McMaster Industry Liaison Office, the University facilitates the commercialization efforts of its faculty by connecting them to the marketplace.


For further information visit or contact Susan Emigh at


About the McMaster Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute


McMaster’s Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute was created in 2006 under the leadership of the inaugural scientific director, Dr. Mick Bhatia. It houses more than 70 scientists studying stem cell biology with a unique focus on human stem cells versus other species, which is core to its translational research efforts. The institute has developed novel technologies, expertise, and infrastructure in imaging, animal models of tissue regeneration, biobanking and automated drug screening. In addition, along with guidance from its international Scientific Advisory Board, the institute plays a key role in knowledge translation via graduate and undergraduate training, and community education and awareness in the area of human stem cell applications, policy development, bioethics and evolving technologies.   


About Actium


Actium is a private biotechnology company exploiting unique stem cell technology to develop cancer therapeutics, and regenerative medicine drugs. The company has know-how, expertise and unique, proprietary approaches to control stem cell differentiation which allows it to develop a wide range of novel, human cell assays and do high throughput drug screening using adult human stem cells. Actium is working on a pipeline of small molecules targeting cancer and non-cancer stem cells and on targets that may be amenable to therapeutic antibody development. Key to portfolio management is a merit-based resourcing strategy whereby projects compete for resource allocations based on successful progression through stages of development.

Actium will work in disease areas where its technologies can create great clinical impact and fulfill critical needs in severe diseases. Actium will advance its pipeline and technology through business partnerships that will help its partners fulfill their goals under a model of licensing, milestone and royalty payments that build substantial accretive value to the Company. The company’s financial success will be based on anticipating and fulfilling market needs and proactively championing technologies and compounds that will meet market demands. 


For further information visit: or contact Helen Findlay at



About the principals of Actium


David Young, MD, was the Founder, CSO and CEO of ARIUS, a biotechnology company which was publicly traded on the TSX until the successful sale of the company in 2008 to F. Hoffman-La Roche. ARIUS partnered with leading companies such as Genentech, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, and Protein Design Labs. Dr. Young did his surgical and science training at the University of Toronto, where he received over 15 scholarships or awards. He is the inventor or author on over 200 patents and scientific papers. He is a recognized entrepreneur and received the Entrepreneur of the Year award from the Association of Chinese Canadian Entrepreneurs. Dr. Young is the founding Chairman of OBIO, a biotech industry group; a director of MabNet, a NSERC Strategic Network and a director of the St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation. Dr. Young is the CEO of Actium.


Helen Findlay is an executive with over 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. As EVP and CBO at ARIUS, she was responsible for business development activities valued at over $400 million and for overseeing operations in the company. She has managed a profitable pharmaceutical marketing consulting business, been named as a finalist in the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards, and is an inventor on over 20 published patents. Ms. Findlay currently is a director of OBIO and is Chair of the Board of Tapestry New Opera. Ms Findlay is the President and COO of Actium.


Mick Bhatia, PhD, is the Scientific Director of the McMaster Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute, The Michael G. DeGroote Chair in Stem Cell Research and Cancer Biology, a Professor of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences and a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Human Stem Cell biology. Dr. Bhatia is recognized globally as a leader and has successful achieved many firsts in stem cell research including the landmark of creating adult red blood cells from skin fibroblast cells and the creation of a robust high throughput screening facility dedicated to screening human stem cells. In addition to his academic role, Dr. Bhatia is the Chief Scientific Officer of Actium where he guides the research strategy and implementation.



Certain statements in this news release constitute "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, which involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our actual results to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such statements. Forward-looking statements in this release include, but are not limited to, Actium will pursue a business model that includes creating mixed revenue streams through platform partnering and sales and royalties from its products. These statements are only predictions and actual events or results may differ materially. Factors that could cause such actual events or results expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements to differ materially from any future results expressed or implied by such statements include, but are not limited to: early stage of development; technology and product development; dependence on and management of current and future corporate collaborations; future capital needs; uncertainty of additional funding; no assurance of market acceptance; dependence on proprietary technology and uncertainty of patent protection; intense competition; manufacturing and market uncertainties; and government regulation. Forward-looking statements are based on our current expectations and Actium is not obligated to update such information to reflect later events or developments.