SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., April 6, 2020 — Surrozen Inc., a biotechnology company pioneering a new class of targeted regenerative antibodies, today announced that one of its scientific founders, Dr. Roel Nusse, received the 2020 Canada Gairdner International Award for Biomedical Research for pioneering work on the Wnt signaling pathway and its importance in development, cancer and stem cells. The Canada Gairdner Foundation annually designates five outstanding biomedical scientists who have made original contributions to medicine resulting in an increased understanding of human biology and disease. Since 1957, 395 awards have been bestowed on laureates from 35 countries and of those awardees, 92 have gone on to receive Nobel Prizes.
Roel Nusse co-founded Surrozen, along with other leaders in Wnt biology, in 2016. Dr. Nusse is The Virginia and Daniel K. Ludwig Professor of Cancer Research, Professor & Chair, Department of Developmental Biology and Member, Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, at the Stanford University School of Medicine. He is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences and is a recipient of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences (2017).
The Canada Gairdner Foundation cited a number of scientific contributions in announcing the award, such as the original discovery of Wnt made by Dr. Nusse together with Harold Varmus, a member of Surrozen’s Board of Directors and Scientific Advisory Board. The Foundation further noted:
Afterwards Dr. Nusse identified the Drosophila Wnt homolog as a key developmental gene, Wingless. Using Drosophila genetics, he established the function of betacatenin as a mediator of Wnt signaling and the Frizzleds as Wnt receptors (with Jeremy Nathans), thereby establishing core elements of what is now called the Wnt pathway. A major later accomplishment of his group was the first successful purification of active Wnt proteins, showing that they are lipid-modified and act as stem cell growth factors.
“All of us at Surrozen are proud of the fundamental contributions our scientific founders have made to the field of Wnt biology,” said Craig Parker, chief executive officer of Surrozen. “The Gairdner Award recognizes Dr. Nusse’s unique role at the epicenter of our understanding of Wnt biology. The discoveries that Dr. Nusse pioneered in understanding the mechanism and role of Wnt signaling serve as a foundation for the approach we are taking to harnessing the pathway for discovery of regenerative therapeutics.”
Wnt signaling plays key roles in the control of development, homeostasis, and regeneration of many essential organs and tissues, including bone, liver, skin, intestine, lung, kidney, central nervous system, cochlea and others. Modulation of Wnt signaling pathways has potential for treatment of degenerative diseases and tissue injuries. There are 19 Wnt ligands (Wnts) in mammals, and they signal through Frizzled receptors (Fzds) 1-10 and LRP5 or 6, two families of receptors. Endogenous Wnts bind to multiple Fzds and are heavily modified post-translationally, making them difficult to manufacture consistently.
Since its founding in 2016, Surrozen has developed two proprietary platforms to selectively modulate the Wnt pathway for the potential treatment of injury and disease. Surrozen Wntmimetics, also referred to as SWAPs (Surrozen Wnt Signal Activating Proteins), are bi-specific fulllength human (IgG) antibodies that directly activate the canonical Wnt signaling pathway in target tissue. Surrozen R-spondin-mimetics, also referred to as SWEETS (Surrozen Wnt Signal Enhancer Engineered for Tissue Specificity), are uniquely engineered antibodies that stabilize Wnt receptors.
Surrozen is a biotechnology company pioneering a new class of targeted regenerative antibodies to repair a broad range of tissues and organs damaged by serious disease. Surrozen is designing tissuespecific antibodies that engage the body’s own biological repair mechanisms resulting in a broad pipeline of disease-specific therapies to help patients across multiple disease areas. For more information, please visit surrozen.com.
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Red House Consulting