News

Race for the discovery of COVID-19 medications: A multidisciplinary project takes shape!

Published on June 17, 2020

Génome Québec, in partnership with IRIC, Université de Montréal, Mila – Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute and McMaster University, is proud to announce funding for a new research project intended to accelerate the discovery of antiviral COVID-19 medications. Spearheaded by professors Michael Tyers (IRIC / Université de Montréal), Yoshua Bengio (Mila / Université de Montréal) and Anne Marinier (IRIC / Université de Montréal), the $1 million project was launched in fast-track mode on June 1, 2020.

The project combines genomics, artificial intelligence and medicinal chemistry to discover new inhibitors of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. The use of genomic screens will lead to a better understanding of the genetic interactions between the virus and human host cells and thereby the identification of new targets for drug discovery. Artificial intelligence will be used to design novel chemical inhibitors against viral proteins and human host proteins on which the virus depends. And finally, with advanced medicinal chemistry, the team will be able to synthesize and test these inhibitors.

Over the long term, this combined genomics/artificial intelligence approach could help significantly accelerate—when compared to traditional approaches—the discovery of antiviral medications for future pandemics. The approach can also be applied to the development of new treatments for cancer and many other diseases.

By consolidating world-renowned expertise in genomics, artificial intelligence and medicinal chemistry, this project is placing Québec and Canada at the cutting edge of research in precision medicine.

Selected as part of a joint Genome Canada-Génome Québec program, the project will also receive funding from Mila, IRIC and McMaster University.