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Collaboration to develop innovative made-in-Canada therapeutics


Vancouver, BC and Montréal, QC – The Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer – Commercialization of Research (IRICoR) at the Université de Montréal (UdeM) and the Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) are collaborating on three new drug development projects. These cutting-edge projects, which address areas of high unmet medical need, are being supported by funding from Merck to IRICoR.

These projects are part of Merck’s $2 million commitment to support British Columbia–Quebec corridor projects between IRICoR and CDRD, both internationally recognized drug discovery hubs created to accelerate the process of drug development and commercialization in Canada. CDRD and IRICoR are leveraging their existing resources and to reduce risk while focusing on new opportunities to develop promising discoveries into game-changing therapeutics for patients.

The projects are:

– Identification of biomarkers and small molecule inhibitors for a novel form of resistance in cancer therapies – Dr. Katherine Borden (Principal Investigator at the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer at UdeM and Professor at the Department of Pathology and Cell Biology of the Faculty of Medicine, UdeM)

– Screening of specific small molecules as possible future treatments for two types of drug-induced dyskinesia, a debilitating and common side effect of the management of Parkinson’s disease – Dr. Daniel Lévesque (Principal Investigator and Professor at the Faculty of Pharmacy, UdeM) and Dr. Claude Rouillard (Principal Investigator at the CHU de Québec Research Centre, Université Laval and Professor at the Department of Psychiatry and Neuroscience of the Faculty of Medicine, Université Laval)

– Hit-to-lead screening and refinement of new small molecule inhibitors of human telomerase to inhibit the growth of cancer tumour cells – Dr. Lea Harrington (Principal Investigator at the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer, UdeM and Professor at the Department of Medicine of the Faculty of Medicine, UdeM) and Dr. Corey Nislow (Principal Investigator and Professor in the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of British Columbia).

“IRICoR’s contribution to drug discovery originating from Canadian academic discoveries already had a major impact, and we are confident that these new projects will yield innovative therapeutic candidates,” said Michel Bouvier, IRICoR’s president and CEO. “The investment by Merck to catalyze the translation of basic research from scientists at IRIC and collaborating centers into drug discovery programs contributes to enrich IRICoR’s projects pipeline that will ultimately yield new therapies in a number of indications with high unmet medical need. The partnership with CDRD will further strengthen the role that IRICoR is playing in the drug discovery ecosystem in Canada, and position the country as a source of innovation for the biopharmaceutical industry.”