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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

TSX Biotech Stock: Q&A Interview with CEO of Quest PharmaTech (TSX.V: QPT)

New York NY - Point Roberts WA - January 21, 2014 ( Newswire), a global news source for leading sectors including biotech and pharma issues an exclusive interview with Dr. Madi R. Madiyalakan, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Quest PharmaTech Inc. (TSX.V: QPT). Dr. Madiyalakan shares insight into the Company’s pipeline of oncology products. The Company takes a unique approach to cancer treatment that capitalizes on the recent major advances in the understanding of immune physiology and developing proprietary next generation cancer immunotherapy treatments using select antibodies, adjuvants and photosensitizers.

For readers unfamiliar with your company, can you give a brief introduction on your background in the biotech space and the formation of Quest PharmaTech?
A: Madi R. Madiyalakan, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer
I have been involved in the Biotech industry for over 27 years, first as a scientist at Biomira Inc (now known as Oncothyreon) and then as a founding executive team member of several biotech companies including, AltaRex Corp., CanBiocin Inc. and SonoLight Pharmaceuticals Corp. My relationship with Quest began when Quest PharmaTech acquired SonoLight Pharmaceuticals in 2001. That acquisition provided a path forward for technology I had invented and championed ([Dr. Madiyalakan holds 10 primary U.S. patents and eight pending patents]). I have been instrumental in raising more than $200 million through private placement and public offerings for those companies. I specialize in advancing novel technologies with great therapeutic potential in areas of unmet medical need.
Quest was started as a research and development company in 1998 and was listed on the TSX Venture Exchange in 1999. I have been CEO of the Company since 2006.
Can you briefly describe the current product portfolio and the primary oncology focus for each?
A: Madi R. Madiyalakan, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer
Our technology is focused on the immunotherapy of cancer. We utilize tumor directed monoclonal antibodies to activate the specific immunity; however we recognize that successful therapy requires orchestrated combination with chemotherapy, photodynamic therapy and select additional immune modulators or adjuvants. Our lead product, Oregovomab, which is currently completing a phase II clinical trial in both Italy and the U.S., is used in combination with standard chemotherapy in ovarian cancer patients. It is also being tested in combination with other immunotherapeutic agents for use in treating pancreatic cancer patients. Our pipeline also includes proprietary antibodies against other cancer markers, most notably MUC1, PSA and HER2. We expect to advance our MUC1 targeting antibody into the clinic in the coming year. MUC1 expressing cancers include many commonly occurring solid cancers such as breast, pancreatic and lung cancers.
We are also very excited about our new pipeline of therapeutic IgE antibodies, which we recently acquired from Advanced Immune Therapeutics, Inc. and for which we obtained license rights from UCLA and Stanford University. In addition to their immunotherapeutic potential, these molecules also have the potential to act in the tumor micro-environment to augment the effectiveness of chemotherapy. We truly believe that the IgE technology will be a breakthrough for the treatment of cancer.
Can you discuss the current status of your flagship product OREGOVOMAB and its applications in immune therapy?
A: Madi R. Madiyalakan, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer
Quest's proprietary approach uses antibodies to modulate and enhance specific immunity to the target tumor antigen and associated tumor. Recent insights into the ability of cytotoxic therapy to enhance immunity, and the development of novel adjuvant approaches, suggests that a simple and artful approach using a combination of components for specific cancer immunotherapy can change the clinical course of cancer. We are using our lead product Oregovomab as an example to demonstrate the proof of concept for the combinatorial immunotherapeutic approach and trying to identify ideal combinations by conducting three different clinical trials. The most advanced of these is an 80 patient phase II clinical trial in advanced ovarian cancer patients that is being conducted in 13 clinical centers in Italy and the U.S. We hope the results from this trial will confirm the findings in an earlier study that shows combining chemotherapy with Oregovomab leads to the generation of specific anti-cancer T-cells and the potential for clinical benefits. We are also conducting another clinical trial in the U.S. using Oregovomab in combination with another chemotherapeutic agent, Gemcitabine, together with radiation therapy for treating pancreatic cancer. The trial will help us to expand the market opportunities for Oregovomab to other CA125 expressing cancers as well as to evaluate immunotherapy in combination with chemo radiotherapy. We are also looking at the addition of an immunoadjuvant, Hiltonol, a TLR3 agonist, which we have licensed from a U.S based company, Oncovir, to further augment the immune response. The completion of these 3 clinical trials will provide us with the roadmap for commercialization of this product. To summarize, Quest's approach has created an opportunity to mobilize immunity, better, more precisely and for less cost than other methods that are in development, and, or, recently approved.
Can you give us some background on the key members of your team and the scientific board and the expertise they bring to the company?
A: Madi R. Madiyalakan, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer
Working with me on themanagement team, I have Thomas Woo, Vice President of Product Development since 2002. Thomas honed his drug development skills at Biomira, AltaRex and Cytovax. My CFO, Pierre Vermette, comes with extensive experience gained at the Alberta Securities Commission and has been with the Company since 2003.
On theBoard of Directors, I have Lorne Meikle, our Chairman, Ian McConnan, our Audit Committee Chair and Paul Van Damme, our Corporate Governance Chair.
Mr. Meikle has an extensive background in the life sciences area, Mr. McConnan is a former partner of several public accounting firms, and Mr. Van Damme has acted in the CFO role for a number of public and private companies.
On the Company's Scientific Advisory Board, I have internationally known scientists who occupy important positions in various institutions around the world. Dr. Samuel Abraham, Ph.D., is the Vice President of Research with the British Columbia Cancer Agency. Professor Ki-Jun Hwang is a well respected medicinal chemist at Chonbuk University in South Korea. One of the clinicians, Dr. Ronald Moore, who is developing a unique treatment for prostate cancer at the Cross Cancer Institute in Canada, is also one of our scientific advisory board members. Dr. Moore, along with Dr. Gerald Miller in Australia, provide a strong scientific direction to our photodynamic therapy program.
On the Company's Clinical Advisory Board (CAB), I have Dr. Christopher Nicodemus, a clinical expert in tumor immunology and drug development who has been championing the combinatorial immunotherapeutic approach supported by numerous publications and patents. He relies on the advice of his fellow CAB members, key opinion leaders such as Professor William McGuire in the U.S, Professor Ignace Vergote in Belgium and Dr. Thomas Ehlen in Canada.
All members of the CAB have a keen interest in innovative improvements in the area of ovarian cancer and see a great opportunity to advance the previous learning with Oregovomab in the context of combination therapies that will better access the immune response and limit immune suppression that has impeded earlier efforts to vaccinate against cancer.
Can you share with readers the significance of some of your key relationships including Stanford University and UCLA?
A: Madi R. Madiyalakan, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer
Significance of Key Relationships:
We are very pleased to be licensing IgE technologies developed by the distinguished scientists from these prestigious institutions. In addition, we are also working closely with the Eppley Cancer Institute at the University of Nebraska to develop animal models and complete pre-clinical testing of potential drug candidates.
With all biotech companies, funding is a key factor to success; last November you announced a $1million placement for Quest PharmaTech. C an you explain the significance of this round of financing and where this takes you to?
A: Madi R. Madiyalakan, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer
We wanted to strengthen our relationship with our long term investment partner, AD Biotech Co., Ltd. AD Biotech has committed $12 Million to fund our ongoing clinical programs during the next two years. We were pleased with their confidence in Quest as demonstrated by their investment of $1 Million at a premium share price.
In closing what are some of the key milestones for 2014 for Quest PharmaTech?
A: Madi R. Madiyalakan, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer
Some of the key 2014 milestones we hope to achieve in the coming year include completing patient enrollment of the Oregovomab clinical trial and obtaining preliminary data for the Oregovomab clinical trial in Italy and US; initiating a clinical study combining Oregovomab with immuno-adjuvants; expanding the Company's opportunities for revenue generation through product sales of some evidence based over-the-counter nutraceutical and cosmetic products licensed from our joint venture partner; generating critical additional data demonstrating the therapeutic potential of our proprietary IgE portfolio; and, pursuing out-licensing arrangements as a source of additional revenue and validation for our technologies.
About Quest PharmaTech Inc.:
Quest PharmaTech Inc. (Quest) is a publicly traded (TSX Venture), Alberta-based biotechnology company committed to the development and commercialization of oncology product candidates. It is developing a series of products for the treatment of cancer based on its pipeline of SonoLight compounds, and monoclonal antibodies that target certain tumor antigens that are presented in a variety of cancers. Quest believes that by combining these antibodies with other cancer therapies such as chemotherapy or photodynamic therapy, it can potentially further complement and enhance treatment outcomes compared to antibody treatment alone.
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