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Date: July 13, 2004

Protox is first UVic spin-off company on TSX

Dr. Tom BuckleyUVic's Dr. Tom Buckley, chief scientific officer of Protox Therapeutics Inc. A University of Victoria spin-off company which develops cancer drugs is making history today as the first UVic start-up on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Protox Therapeutics Inc. has completed a $4.5 million initial public offering to fund its research and development initiatives.

The Vancouver-based company began in 2002 when co-founder and UVic biochemist Dr. Tom Buckley engineered Aerolysin, a naturally occurring bacterial toxin, as a targeted cancer therapy.

“We have used genetic engineering technology to alter Aerolysin so that it is activated selectively by prostate specific antigens, and the modified protein shows promise as a treatment for localized prostate cancer,” says Buckley, Protox’s chief scientific officer. “We believe we can also tailor Aerolysin so that it can selectively destroy a variety of other types of cancer cells.”

Now Protox is partnering with UVic and Johns Hopkins University scientists to develop a treatment for localized prostate cancer, and the company is working with the National Research Council Institute of Biological Sciences in Ottawa to find a way to use an engineered Aerolysin against lung cancer. Internal research initiatives are also underway focusing on the treatment of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Protox will begin trading under TSX-V Trading Symbol PRX.

But Protox would not be where it is today if not for the assistance provided by UVic’s technology transfer office, the Innovation and Development Corporation. IDC facilitates the transfer of university knowledge to the private sector through, in part, supporting the commercialization of UVic inventions and innovations. It helped to patent Protox’s Aerolysin technology and develop many of the early stage foundational structures for the company.

“To really move Protox forward, the company needed to partner with experts in the field of drug development and, in particular, tap into the venture capital community,” explains Dr. Doug Tolson, IDC’s vice-president. “Dr. Buckley was instrumental in connecting with industry leaders Taz Esmail, president and CEO of Protox, and Frank Holler, its chairman, who understand the potential of this technology and how to drive the commercialization process.”

Since its inception in 1992, IDC has helped spin-off over 30 commercial ventures, based on UVic research or UVic student entrepreneurial initiatives. These include B.C. businesses producing vaccine and diagnostic solutions for aquaculture, secure electronic forms, environmentally safe herbicides, laboratory information management systems, and technology to design disease resistant plants and crops. For more information visit web.uvic.ca/idc/ and www.protoxtherapeutics.com.

Media contacts:
Dr. Tom Buckley (Biochemistry and Microbiology) at (250) 721-7081 or tbuckley@uvic.ca
Terry Vanderkruyk (Protox Therapeutics) at (604) 688-4376, cell (604) 789-0844 or tvanderkruyk@protoxtherapeutics.com
Maria Lironi (UVic Communications) at (250) 721-6139 or lironim@uvic.ca

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