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Orthopaedics start-up wins support from adMare BioInnovations
Trepso Therapeutics, based on more than twenty years of scientific research led by John Antoniou, MD, PhD and Fackson Mwale, PhD, was among six Quebec start-ups selected by adMare BioInnovations, Canada’s global life sciences venture, to join its new acceleration program supporting the scale-up and growth of promising life sciences companies. Trepso is developing a best-in-class novel therapeutic, named short Link N (sLN), to reverse the structural deterioration associated with degenerative disc and articular joint diseases, such as osteoarthritis, and to reduce the associated pain and inflammation. Drs. Antoniou and Mwale are both professors in McGill University’s Department of Surgery. Dr. Antoniou is also an orthopaedic surgeon at the Jewish General Hospital. Together, they run the Orthopaedics Research Laboratory at the Lady Davis Institute.

Chronic back pain remains an under-served, highly prevalent condition and a leading cause of functional disability worldwide, consistently ranking among the top five reasons for doctor visits, surgery and hospitalization. Furthermore, chronic lower back pain caused by degenerating discs is a significant contributor to today’s opioid epidemic.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), 266 million people suffer from degenerative spine disease with low back pain. Most current pharmacologic treatments address the associated pain and inflammation, rather than the underlying pathophysiology. The benefits of such treatments are generally short in duration, have limited effect as the disease worsens, and patients often end up resorting to surgical intervention.

sLN is the bioactive portion of an endogenous peptide that acts as a growth factor and key regulator of normal spinal disc and cartilage extracellular matrix turnover. It not only blocks inflammatory pain signaling and possibly the ingrowth of pain-sensing fibers, but may preserve and restore the integrity of the degenerating tissue. The potential for sLN to truly be disease-modifying would be of tremendous value to the millions of patients suffering from disc disease and articular cartilage diseases, reducing the number of costly and risky surgeries.

Thanks to contributions from the Government of Quebec, through Start-Up Quebec funding from the Ministère de l'Économie et de l'Innovation, and the City of Montreal, Trepso will benefit from $150,000 in customized access to adMare resources, such as laboratories and offices at reduced rates, scientific and business support, and training. With the support of BIOQuébec and Montréal InVivo, the participants will also access unique networking and mentoring opportunities to increase their visibility in Quebec’s life sciences community.

“These promising companies will thus be able to better structure themselves, become more mature, and even more attractive to investors. Ultimately, the entire life sciences and health technology sector will benefit from the scientific breakthroughs advanced by this program," emphasized Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister of Economy and Innovation, in making the announcement.

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