Biopartnering Seminar Series-Developing non-antibody-based biologics: fruitful academic endeavors but a slow path to the clinic-Jean Gariépy, Ph.D.

Jean Gariépy, Ph.D.
Tuesday, October 22, 2019 - 6:30am

Short Personal Bio: Molecular Engineering and the Development of Targeted Biological Therapies Dr. Jean Gariépy is a Professor in the departments of Medical Biophysics (since 2000) and Pharmaceutical Sciences (since 2005) at the University of Toronto. He holds the SRI Research Chair in Biomolecular Engineering and is the Director of the Molecular Targeting and Therapeutics laboratory at the Sunnybrook Research Institute since 2010. He was originally trained as a peptide chemist and biophysicist at the University of Alberta (Ph.D.), and as a peptide/protein engineer at Stanford University, in the areas of bacterial toxins and infectious diseases (PDF). His laboratory has had a long-standing interest in designing new cancer vaccines and more recently in generating novel immune modulators as anti-inflammatory or anti-cancer agents. As such, his group has developed new technologies in the field of biotherapeutics, being cited as an inventor or co-inventor on 10 granted patents and on more than 23 patent applications. Dr. Gariépy co-founded and was a director [2000-2008] and past CSO [2000-2009] of Molecular Templates, Inc., (, a well-funded NASDAQ-listed biotechnology company (MTEM) based since 2008 in Austin, Texas that focuses on the development of protein-based biotherapeutics (Engineered Toxin Bodies) in the area of Oncology. MTEM is presently involved in multiple clinical trials. Dr. Gariépy also co-founded, and is a director and CSO of D5Pharma (; a Toronto-based discovery company focusing on evaluating a functional aptamer as a novel inflammatory agent to treat asthma patients and restore tissue architecture. Finally, Dr. Gariépy is involved in several partnerships with institutions including the University of Toronto, MaRS Innovation, Lab 150 as well as Pharmas in developing novel biotherapies.

Abstract: Biologics and in particular monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) have been shown to be clinically effective.  As a consequence, many mAbs are populating the top 10 list of worldwide selling drugs for the past decade. Keytruda (pembrolizumab; anti-PD-1 mAb; Merck) is expected to very soon displacing Humira (anti-TNFalpha mAb; Abbvie) as the top selling drug in the world.  Dozens of other monoclonal antibodies are also being actively assessed in clinical trials, generating a rapidly growing pipeline of future immunotherapeutic agents. The presently-approved mAbs can be dramatically effective in some patients but typically have a limited timeline in terms of effectiveness. Importantly, sub-groups of patients do not respond to such therapies for a variety of indications and reasons.  Antibody therapeutics comes with some challenges and are mostly being designed to target a very limited of tumor or immune targets. Our academic laboratory [and the topic of this seminar] is developing alternate biology-based platforms against known and new targets in an effort to broaden the clinical potential of biologics while addressing issues associated with mAb-based therapies.