$4M for open science drug screening

Funds will support development of precision therapies for ALS and Parkinson’s disease

The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital) will lead an open science partnership to develop precision drugs for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Parkinson’s disease (PD).

A grant from Quebec’s Ministry of Economy and Innovation, under its Fonds d’accélération des collaborations en santé (FACS), worth up to $2M, will fund this unique public-private partnership that includes The Neuro, Takeda Pharmaceuticals and the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC). Takeda, SGC, and philanthropist J. Sebastian van Berkom will match the public funds providing up to a further $2M.

Called NeuroOme, the partnership will use a multi-omics approach that incorporates several genetic datasets for more precise screening of promising drug targets.

ALS and PD are very complex diseases and patients can have very different pathological, clinical and genetic characteristics. This makes developing drugs to target theses diseases very difficult. The goal of this precision medicine approach is to know more about each patient’s circumstances, and using that to divide them into more precise groups so treatments and clinical trials can be developed specially for them and have a higher success rate.

NeuroOme will bring together specialists in stem cells, drug screening, genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, bioinformatics and neuroinformatics to develop multi-omics data. It will be integrated into The Neuro’s Open Early Drug Discovery Unit, which develops induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) for use in screens to evaluate compounds which have potential to be the basis for effective drug treatments. The multi-Omics data will be used to improve these screens.

In keeping with The Neuro’s open science initiative, all data, cell-lines and reagents generated through this project will be made available to the scientific community to spark new partnerships and accelerate the discovery process. Clinical information and biological samples will be collected by The Neuro’s Open Biobank (C-BIGR), while NeuroHub, a McGill-wide open source neuroinformatics platform, will integrate datasets from multiple disciplines.

“NeuroOme is another important step towards developing precision therapies for patients with ALS and PD, says Dr. Guy Rouleau, director of The Neuro and NeuroOme’s lead investigator. “These diseases are incredibly complex, and the best way to treat them is to study each patient in depth – which is central to this project. This partnership will provide researchers with new data that will be used to improve clinical trials for the benefit of patients. Sharing this data through our open science initiative means there is a greater chance it will lead to a breakthrough.”

The Neuro

The Neuro – The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital – is a world-leading destination for brain research and advanced patient care. Since its founding in 1934 by renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Wilder Penfield, The Neuro has grown to be the largest specialized neuroscience research and clinical center in Canada, and one of the largest in the world. The seamless integration of research, patient care, and training of the world’s top minds make The Neuro uniquely positioned to have a significant impact on the understanding and treatment of nervous system disorders. In 2016, The Neuro became the first institute in the world to fully embrace the Open Science philosophy, creating the Tanenbaum Open Science Institute. The Montreal Neurological Institute is a McGill University research and teaching institute. The Montreal Neurological Hospital is part of the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre. 

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The Neuro is a McGill research and teaching institute; delivering the highest quality patient care, as part of the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre. We are proud to be a Killam Institution, supported by the Killam Trusts.