Neuro Genomics Partnership aims to drive neurological disease research

Published: 3 February 2022

Academia and industry collaborate to find new targets for neurological disease treatment

A new research collaboration between The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital), Takeda Development Center Americas, Inc. and Roche will enable large-scale analysis of patient data to potentially find promising targets for drug development in neurological diseases.

The Neuro Genomics Partnership (NGP) aims to create a powerful precompetitive genetic, clinical and drug discovery platform. Takeda and Roche will provide a combined 7M USD in funding over three years to NGP.

The funds will support infrastructure for whole genome sequencing, deep clinical phenotyping, brain imaging, and remote monitoring with wearable apps, as well as the development of stem cell lines from patients with neurological diseases who have volunteered to participate in Open Science research.

Sequencing materials and data management and analysis tools will be provided by Illumina, Inc., an NGP collaborator, to support the whole genome sequencing of approximately 1,000 patient samples.

In the initial phase, scientists at The Neuro will focus on patients with Parkinson’s disease, REM sleep behaviour disorder and healthy controls, recruited through the Fonds de recherche Québec Santé funded Quebec Parkinson Network. As additional collaborators join the NGP, the project plans to expand to include genome sequencing of approximately 16,000 patients, deep phenotyping of 6,000 patients, and the development of 500 stem cell lines from patients with a wide range of brain diseases.

In keeping with The Neuro’s Open Science principles, the data and biospecimens from these studies will be made available to the scientific community worldwide via The Neuro’s Clinical Biospecimen Imaging and Genetic Repository (C-BIG).

Ultimately, the goal is for scientists to use the stem cells to test the effects of drugs on the genetic pathways that cause neurological disease. Scientists will also use genetic sequencing to select candidates for clinical trials.

“Neurological patients are a diverse group, and treatments that work for one might not work for another with the same disease,” says Dr. Edward Fon, Scientific Director of The Neuro and NGP’s project lead. “The best approach is to look at patients’ individual biology, find out what causes their neurological dysfunction, and develop treatments to target that pathway. The NGP will harness the power of modern genetic sequencing, deep clinical characterization and stem cell technology to do just that.”

“Accessing several layers of comprehensive longitudinal data of unique patient populations in the NGP collaboration will help to advance understanding of neurological disease transitions and will yield important insights for Takeda programs,” says Steve Hitchcock, Global Head of Research at Takeda.

“Deep clinical phenotyping coupled with genome sequencing, brain imaging, and other biomarker platforms will lay the foundation for personalized approaches in Parkinson’s and related disorders,” says Azad Bonni, Global Head of Neuroscience and Rare Diseases, Roche Pharmaceutical Research and Early Development (pRED). “Together with our partners in the NGP collaboration, we are excited to push the boundaries of scientific understanding for some of the greatest challenges in neuroscience today.”

“Illumina is proud to collaborate with the Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital to support the genome sequencing of patients with Parkinson’s disease and REM sleep behaviour,” says Nicki Berry, Senior Vice President and General Manager for the Americas at Illumina. “This important research will get us one step closer to finding a treatment for neurological diseases. Working with Amazon Web Services, we will use the breadth and depth of AWS’s Cloud to support the project’s data analysis and storage needs while keeping all of the information in Canada.”

The Neuro

The Neuro – The Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital – is a bilingual, 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 (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) is a bilingual academic healthcare institution. We are a McGill research and teaching institute; delivering high-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.



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