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IRIC expands its medicinal chemistry core facility and announces the launch of phase II clinical trials for a molecule jointly identified by IRIC and Bristol-Myers Squibb

Published on December 15, 2016

Representatives from provincial and federal governments, IRIC, IRICoR, Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), and life sciences sector.

On Wednesday, December 14, new laboratories for the medicinal core facility at the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) at the Université de Montréal (UdeM) were inaugurated. This core facility, primarily located at the Marcelle Coutu Pavilion at IRIC, will increase drug discovery capacity and speed up the expansion of its chemical compounds library via the acquisition of a robotics suite.

Following a partnership between UdeM’s Faculty of Pharmacy and IRIC, the inauguration took place right next to IRIC, at the Jean Coutu Pavilion, which houses the new laboratories of this core facility. The proximity between IRIC’s medicinal chemistry laboratories and the Faculty of Pharmacy’s biopharmaceutical laboratories strengthens the synergy between these two units. The medicinal chemistry core facility was expanded thanks to grants from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the Government of Quebec.

“This is great news for the Institute and the Faculty of Pharmacy,” stated Anne Marinier, Principal Investigator and Director of Medicinal Chemistry at IRIC, in her speech to government officials, university representatives and members of the pharmaceutical industry. “It is both proof and recognition of past achievements from the medicinal chemistry team, which is composed mainly of experienced scientists coming from the pharmaceutical industry. Today’s announcement clearly illustrates the rapid progress in our discovery projects and in the development of molecules coming from our collaborative efforts for therapeutic applications.”

“I am very proud of this new milestone reached by IRIC and IRICoR, two key organizations in Quebec’s life science ecosystem,” said Dominique Anglade, Minister of Economy, Science and Innovation and Minister responsible for the Digital Strategy. “The expansion of the medicinal chemistry core facility and the launch of the clinical phase for a molecule generated by it are indisputable proofs that Quebec’s cutting-edge expertise clearly attracts investments in research partnerships with international pharmaceutical companies.”

“Cutting-edge facilities are essential to world-class research,” said Gilles Patry, CFI President and CEO. “The expansion of this medicinal chemistry platform equips researchers and their private sector partners with state-of-the-art research infrastructure and thereby reinforces Montreal’s reputation as an international hub for pharmaceutical research.”

Since its creation in 2008, this core facility has seen several molecules that were first synthesized at IRIC move into currently ongoing clinical trials. Such progress attests to the efficiency of IRIC’s innovative model of drug discovery in an academic setting.

A Promising Partnership

The inauguration was the perfect opportunity to announce the launch of phase II clinical trials for BMS-986141 (UDM-003183). This drug candidate discovered in partnership with Bristol-Myers Squibb is being studied for the treatment of thrombotic diseases. It inhibits the protease activated receptor type 4 (PAR4), a member of a family of receptors for which IRIC has developed a World-renowned expertise. Seminal work from IRIC and Bristol-Myers Squibb has helped to establish PAR4 inhibition as a potentially promising therapeutic approach. Several hospital centres in Quebec, Canada and across the World will take part in the clinical trials.

This discovery was made possible thanks to the drug discovery chain and IRIC’s drug discovery and commercialization unit (IRICoR), both of which were created through an initial grant from the Centres of Excellence in Commercialization and Research (CECRs). They are currently supported by the Fonds pour un Québec Innovant et en Santé (FPQIS) of the Government of Quebec and Bristol-Myers Squibb. The ongoing collaboration with Bristol-Myers Squibb now encompasses multiple drug discovery projects. This successful partnership will celebrate the start of its tenth year in 2017. Over the past 9 years, Bristol-Myers Squibb has provided more than $20M in direct funding support and more than $20M of value in indirect support to IRIC programs.