Research Unit

Drug Discovery

Anne Marinier and her team of 60 chemists and biologists develop new biologically active chemical compounds with therapeutic potential.

Research theme

Although many biological drugs have been developed over the past few years, traditional chemical molecules still have their place in the therapeutic arsenal. Anne Marinier’s team strives to design, synthesize and characterize new chemical compounds having a biological activity.

Investigators focus mainly on molecules that may eventually play a therapeutic role in the cancer field or that could serve as useful pharmacological tools in the discovery of new biological targets that make it possible to better understand the underlying biological processes of cancer.

The team also works on the design and synthesis of chemical libraries based on new structures belonging to unexplored chemical scaffolds. By having chemists and biologists with previous professional experience in the industry sector, the team provides state-of-the-art expertise related to each step of drug design.

Research objectives

Anne Marinier’s team designs and synthesizes new chemical entities having biological and potentially therapeutic activity.

It accomplishes this by optimizing the therapeutic function of certain so-called hit or lead compounds identified by high-throughput screening or targeted chemical synthesis, based on thorough investigation of their structure-activity relationship.

Another of the laboratory’s objectives consists of identifying new biological targets using collections of molecules belonging to new chemical scaffolds. Following phenotypic screenings, the hits from these libraries are used to identify targets following various biochemical and genetic approaches. These new targets then become the centerpiece of innovative therapeutic approaches for treating cancer or make it possible to better understand the processes involved in cancer.

In just 10 years of existence, the Drug Discovery Unit’s team of medicinal chemists, in concert with Dr. Guy Sauvageau’s team, has already had tremendous success in the development of the UM171 molecule, now part of a clinical trial at Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital and soon elsewhere in the world. The promising results of the first Phase I/II study provide hope for optimizing the treatment of patients suffering from blood diseases including leukemias, myelomas and lymphomas. The conclusive results of the clinical trial may result in greater efficacy of the stem cell transplant procedure, while also reducing its complications, benefiting thousands of patients.

Research topics

Research team