Professor Christopher M. Overall, Chief Scientific Officer

Professor Christopher M. Overall, Chief Scientific Officer

InterfeRx is a spin off company in the Life Sciences Centre, UBC whose mission is to develop and bring to clinical trial novel broad-spectrum anti-viral drugs.

The foundation of InterfeRx is our Intellectual Property based on our exciting finding that a secreted metalloproteinase from macrophages targets viral infected cells, crossing the plasma membrane and nuclear envelope and functioning thereafter as a transcription factor (Marchant et al. 2014, Nature Medicine). Unexpectedly, MMP12 bound a specific sequence in the promoter of IkBα and turned on gene transcription. This was essential for secretion of the anti-viral protein Interferon-α. Mice deficient in MMP12 died of virus infection. Thus MMP12 inside the cell is protective. However, MMP12 also had a homeostatic role in the extracellular environment. Outside the cell MMP12 was identified as the primary enzyme that clears Interferon-α from plasma and infected tissues. This removes the antiviral protective factor.

We developed a novel compound that was a selective MMP12 inhibitor in order to stabilise Interferon-α and increase life-saving Interferon-α levels in the plasma and tissues. With key chemical modifications to the structure of the inhibitor we prevent MMP12 crossing through the cell membrane and so preserved the life-saving antiviral intracellular functions of MMP12. Virus infected mice treated with the InterfeRx antiviral drug showed a dramatic increase in systemic Interferon-α levels, that was associated with the elimination of viral replication in infected tissues and with a marked decrease in viral load.

Thus, the mission of InterfeRx is to bring this broad-spectrum anti-viral compound to human clinical trials .


Marchant, D.J., Bellac, C., Moraes, T.J., Wadsworth, S.J., Dufour, A., Butler, G.S., Bilawchuk, L.M., Hendry, R.G., Robertson, A.G., Cheung, C.T., Ng, J., Ang, L., Luo, Z., Heilbron, K., Norris, M.J., Duan, W., Bucyk, T., Karpov, A., Devel, L., Georgiadis, D., Hegele, R.G., Luo, H., Granville, D.J., Dive, V., McManus, B.M., and Overall, C.M. 2014. A new transcriptional role for matrix metalloproteinase-12 in antiviral immunity. Nature Medicine 20, 493-502. doi 1038/nm.3508.


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