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Research collaboration to accelerate the development of new therapies to fight neurodegeneration

Prof Phillippe Gros
Published: 2 May 2019

CQDM, Healthy Brains for Healthy Lives (HBHL), Corbin Therapeutics and Brain Canada award $1.5 million to McGill Professor Philippe Gros who will pursue the development of new molecules to fight neuroinflammation

HBHL and research consortium CQDM are pleased to announce that Professor Philippe Gros of McGill University has been awarded $1.5 million as part of the SynergiQC program to pursue the development and validation of new inhibitors of ubiquitin-specific protein protease (USP-15) and its partner TRIM25, that plays a key role in neuroinflammation-based disorders.

From this development, Dr. Gros aims to identify a lead candidate(s) for proceeding into drug development, in view of managing and treating neuroinflammation. From this total, $655,000 will be provided by the Quebec Ministry of Economy and Innovation (MEI) through CQDM, while the balance will be funded by three partners, including $550,000 from Healthy Brains for Healthy Lives (HBHL), $279,000 from Corbin Therapeutics, and $55,000 from Brain Canada, with the financial support of Health Canada through the Canada Brain Research Fund.

Professor Philippe Gros will use the funds to develop and validate small-molecule inhibitors of USP15 using Corbin Therapeutics’ proprietary drug discovery platform. USP15 has been shown to regulate type 1 interferon and is key to the neuroinflammation pathogenesis. Preclinical results to date have shown that a single point mutation of USP15, leading to its partial loss of function, may help prevent and treat inflammatory-based diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and even Alzheimer’s disease. The researcher proposes to inhibit the USP15 where emerging data suggests neuroinflammation could play a key role in its progression leading to the development of a drug to manage and treat neuroinflammation.

“Inflammation is responsible for neurological disorders which affect 1 in 10 Canadians of all ages. This new technology gives hope to patients, families and caregivers, as well as governments who must deal with this growing public health challenge. Funding this innovative approach offers an opportunity to transform many brain disorders from terminal or life-long afflictions to treatable, even curable, conditions,” says Alan C. Evans, Scientific Director, HBHL.

“This project brings together public, private and academic funding to accelerate the development of new prevention and treatment options for neuroinflammatory diseases which share common underlying mechanism,” said Inez Jabalpurwala, President and CEO of Brain Canada.

“Corbin is delighted to be working with Dr. Philippe Gros, and we are thankful to our collaborators for helping to fund this project. Neurodegenerative diseases remain an area of high unmet medical need and new approaches and targets are required to find disease-modifying therapies for patients. Targeting neuroinflammation is a promising area of research, and with projects like this one, Corbin will continue to advance its pipeline to find high-value solutions for patients,” said Sean A. MacDonald, CEO of Corbin Therapeutics Inc.

“This project exemplifies collaborative research between the public and private sectors. It will help explore new treatment options for many neurodegenerative diseases with an inflammatory component, such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease. It’s ultimately an alliance to improve the well-being of populations that we are supporting today, and an eloquent demonstration of Quebec's expertise in biopharmaceutical research," said Pierre Fitzgibbon, Quebec Minister of the Economy and Innovation.

“This funding will give Corbin Therapeutics the means to develop a cutting-edge technology capable of preventing and treating debilitating diseases for which there are tremendous unmet needs, including multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. As a promoter of innovation CQDM is proud to help such discoveries progress from lab to bedside,” said Diane Gosselin, CQDM’s President and Chief Executive Officer.

About CQDM
CQDM is a biopharma-based research consortium created in 2008 with the mission to fund the development of innovative technologies to accelerate drug discovery and development. Its business model is based on a collaborative approach bringing together world-leading pharmaceutical organizations, Canadian biotech companies as well as the Canadian and Quebec governments who share the costs of the research. CQDM uses this leverage to reduce the risks inherent in early-stage biopharmaceutical research. In doing so, CQDM bridges the funding gap needed to drive innovation across the academic and private sectors, especially where early-stage research is concerned. Over the last 10 years, CQDM has benefited from the contribution of 13 industrial members: that includes Merck, Pfizer, AstraZeneca as founding members as well as Boehringer Ingelheim, Eli Lilly Canada, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen, Novartis Pharma Canada, Roche, Sanofi Canada, Servier, Takeda and Amgen. CQDM also received contributions from Quebec’s Ministry of Economy and Innovation (MEI) and from the Government of Canada under the Business-Led Networks of Centres of Excellence Program (BL-NCE). Since 2008, CQDM has supported the development of 64 outstanding innovative technologies totaling $68 M in funding. These R&D projects carried out by 1,200 scientists from 69 different research institutions (38 public and 31 private) across Canada have generated numerous economic benefits for all the stakeholders of the life science ecosystem. For more information, visit

About Brain Canada
Brain Canada is a national registered charity that enables and supports excellent, innovative, paradigm-changing brain research in Canada. Brain Canada's vision is to understand the brain, in health and illness, to improve lives and achieve societal impact. For two decades, Brain Canada has made the case for the brain as a single, complex system with commonalities across the range of neurological disorders, mental illnesses and addictions, brain and spinal cord injuries. Looking at the brain as one system has underscored the need for increased collaboration across disciplines and institutions, and a smarter way to invest in brain research that is focused on outcomes that will benefit patients and families. Brain Canada raises and leverages funds from a range of donors and partners, including individuals, corporations, foundations, research institutes, health charities, and provincial agencies. To date, Brain Canada and its supporters have invested $250 million in 300 research projects across the country. To find out more, visit:

About Corbin Therapeutics
Corbin Therapeutics is a Montreal-based biotechnology company, using a unique drug discovery platform to identify and develop novel USP15 inhibitors for the treatment of various inflammation diseases, such as multiple sclerosis. This platform includes several in-vitro and in-vivo models for efficient drug screening and confirmation of potential lead candidates. Corbin is a spin-out company of AmorChem, a prominent investor in academic research in Quebec. At its creation, all technology rights to the USP15 technology have been transferred from AmorChem to Corbin. For additional information, visit:

About HBHL
The Healthy Brains for Healthy Lives (HBHL) initiative is a high profile, high priority multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral initiative located at McGill University made possible with support from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF), Quebec’s Ministère de l'Économie et de l'Innovation (MEI), and the Fonds de recherche du Quebec (FRQS, FRQSC and FRQNT). HBHL builds on McGill’s scientific excellence and global leadership in areas of neuroscience that hold the greatest promise for delivering implementable, clinically effective outcomes in brain and mental health. It aims to transform many brain disorders from terminal or life-long afflictions to treatable, even curable, conditions. HBHL, in partnership with CQDM and MEDTEQ, is funding research projects in collaboration with industry.

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