Transforming Discovery into Opportunity

CDRD & IRICoR to Co-Develop Innovative Made-in-Canada Therapeutics


Vancouver, BC and Montréal, Que.,  May 14, 2015 – 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 pleased to announce that they have initiated collaborations on three new cutting-edge drug development projects. These projects, which address areas of high unmet medical need, are being supported by funding from Merck to IRICoR.

These projects are part of the Merck $2M 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 here in Canada. CDRD and IRICoR are thereby working together to leverage their existing resources and to reduce risk while catalyzing new opportunities to develop the country’s most 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).

CDRD President and CEO, Karimah Es Sabar commented, “As a national centre, CDRD is committed to building partnerships such as this that bring together complementary expertise and infrastructure. We are pleased to be able to support Canadian researchers across the country, including those throughout Quebec’s leading research institutions. By way of these and additional projects currently underway, we are proud to be fostering an effective, dynamic and collaborative drug development environment in Canada.”

“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,” commented Michel Bouvier, IRICoR’s President and CEO. “The investment by Merck to catalyse 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.”

“Merck is proud to support the life sciences community in Canada,” said Chirfi Guindo, President and Managing Director, Merck Canada Inc. “We recognize the expertise and world-class research capabilities that the British Columbia–Quebec corridor projects between CDRD and IRICoR have to offer.  We believe that collaborative efforts such as this will accelerate R&D productivity and stimulate innovation that will translate into tangible discoveries benefiting patients here and around the world.”

About the Centre for Drug Research and Development
The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) is Canada’s fully-integrated national drug development and commercialization centre, providing expertise and infrastructure to enable researchers from leading health research institutions to advance promising early-stage drug candidates. Our mandate is to de-risk discoveries stemming from publicly-funded health research and transform them into viable investment opportunities for the private sector — thus successfully bridging the commercialization gap between academia and industry, and translating research discoveries into new therapies for patients. Canada’s Networks of Centres of Excellence Program has recognized CDRD as a Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR). For more information:

About the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer — Commercialization of Research
The Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer — Commercialization of Research (IRICoR) is a not-for-profit drug discovery and commercialization centre based at the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) of the Université de Montréal (UdeM). IRICoR’s main objective is to rapidly translate highly innovative scientific projects from IRIC, UdeM and various centres into high value novel therapies in oncology, immunology and related indications through strong partnerships with the private sector — thereby efficiently bridging the innovation translation gap between early stage academic research and industry. For more information:

About Merck
Today’s Merck is a global health care leader working to help the world be well. Merck is known as MSD outside the United States and Canada. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to health care through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. For more information:

About the Université de Montréal
Deeply rooted in Montreal and dedicated to its international mission, the Université de Montréal is one of the top universities in the French-speaking world. Founded in 1878, the Université de Montréal today has 16 faculties and together with its two affiliated schools, HEC Montréal and École Polytechnique, constitutes the largest centre of higher education and research in Québec and one of the major centres in North America. It brings together 2,600 professors and researchers, accommodates more than 65,000 students. For more information:

Julia White
Manager, Communications
The Centre Drug Research and Development (CDRD)
Phone: 604-827-1226

Steven J. Klein
Vice-President, Business Development
Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer – Commercialization of Research (IRICoR)
Phone: 514-343-6647

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