New IRIC partnerships may speed drug discovery and time to market

The Université de Montréal Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) and its drug discovery and commercialization centre (IRICoR) are developing new ways of working together with the pharmaceuticals industry to accelerate drug discovery. This transformation of the model for innovation was the theme of a conference held today and attended by leading figures from the life sciences sector.

 

The new collaborative model introduced at IRIC over the past 5 years is in fact a research partnership, where the value of the fundamental innovative research by IRIC is increased by the complementary forms of expertise that exist between IRIC and its pharmaceutical industry partners. IRIC contributes to the collaboration with highly innovative projects and leading-edge approaches in the initial stages of a drug's development. The pharma partners, in turn, invest not only through financial support but also by contributing all their expertise in product development during the subsequent phases of drug development. The result is a pooling of complementary areas of expertise which benefits UdeM, the pharmaceutical industry and the entire community in general.

“The changes occurring in the pharmaceutical industry all over the world right now are an opportunity to rethink the whole process that leads from an original idea, based on fundamental research, to the commercialization of a new drug,” said IRICoR CEO Dr. Michel Bouvier of the UdeM Faculty of medicine, who is principal researcher in the IRIC molecular pharmacology unit. “Back when IRIC was founded in 2003, we had seen this revolution coming and we put in place all the elements that would help us make the most of it: researchers recruited from among the world's finest, whose fields of expertise complement one another, extremely advanced technology platforms shared by all teams at the Institute and an entrepreneurial culture. Today we have several major agreements with pharmaceutical companies through which we pool our complementary fields of expertise to develop the discoveries made at the Université de Montréal.”

A major CFI grant
At the conference, IRIC also announced that it had obtained a $10.5 million grant to develop new approaches to ultra-high throughput screening.

“The strength of the innovation model here at IRIC is that it can focus each partner's strengths,” says Geneviève Tanguay, vice-rector of Research, Creation and Innovation at the Université de Montréal. “Support from business and public funds like the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Government of Québec, is essential in allowing our researchers and students to set ever higher standards of excellence.”

“Our government, through the Canada Foundation for Innovation, is pleased to be supporting this research infrastructure project at the Université de Montréal,” said the Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology). “Canada's long-term economic competitiveness depends on ideas and creativity, which our government supports through investments in research and development.”

“Researchers contribute significantly to Quebec's wealth, and the importance the Government of Quebec places on this sector is demonstrated in full by its investment in research infrastructure. The availability of quality infrastructure and materials enables Quebec's scientists to amplify their ability to innovate and distinguish themselves. Furthermore, the impressive results they achieve support the development of Quebec's reputation abroad,” said Pierre Duchesne, Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology.

IRIC has received a grant of $10.5 million from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) Leading Edge and New Initiatives Fund Competition. This amount comes from the CFI and the Government of Quebec, which provide matching donations of $4.2 million each, and from other private sources like ThermoFisher and Perkin-Elmer and other public sources that contribute for $2.1 million. The grant was awarded for a project led by IRIC principal investigator, Professor Mike Tyers of the UdeM Faculty of Medicine. “Our project is to develop new approaches to ultra-high throughput screening,” Professor Tyers explains. “In this way, we'll be able to start filling in the gap that exists today between the knowledge that's been accumulated by genomics and our ability to identify promising molecules for the numerous genes associated with illnesses like cancer.”

About IRICoR | Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer – Commercialization of Research
IRICoR is a non-profit organization whose mandate is to accelerate the discovery, development and commercialization of novel drugs that originate from IRIC and Université de Montréal. IRICoR, as a Center of Excellence in Commercialization and Research, invests in highly innovative projects to rapidly transition them from academia to the market, while identifying the best development partners for these commercially-promising projects. For more information about IRICoR, please visitwww.iricor.ca.

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Mathieu Filion
Senior Media Advisor
Université de Montréal
514-343-7704