CQDM Awards a Grant to Centre de Recherche du CHU de Québec-Université Laval for a Study Collaboration With Merck Canada to Identify Biomarkers of Response to Pembrolizumab in Patients with Localized but Aggressive Prostate Cancer
Montreal, July 20, 2020 – CQDM is pleased to announce a grant for a collaboration among Centre de recherche du CHU de Québec-Université Laval, Merck Canada and La Fondation du CHU de Québec.
Under the leadership of Yves Fradet, M.D. and Frédéric Pouliot, M.D. Ph.D., professors of surgery and researchers in cancer immunotherapy and uro-oncology at CHU de Québec-Université Laval Research Center, this project will receive more than $1,5M over 3 years from CQDM, Merck Canada and Fondation du CHU de Québec to identify biomarkers of response to pembrolizumab in patients with localized but aggressive prostate cancer. CQDM funding for this project is made possible by a contribution of $328,000 from Quebec’s Ministry of Economy and Innovation.
So far, immunotherapy using inhibitors of immune checkpoints, such as PD-1, has shown limited success in the treatment of prostate cancer. Some evidence suggests that localized prostate cancers with poor prognostic tend to be more infiltrated by immune cells and might better respond to immunotherapy. Dr Pouliot has shown that 18F-FDG-PET/CT scanning could be used to identify among newly diagnosed patients with high-grade prostate cancer a subpopulation of patients with aggressive disease. Prostate cancers that show a high intraprostatic uptake of glucose are expected to better respond to immunotherapy.
The researchers will conduct a Phase II clinical and translational study of pembrolizumab (anti-PD-1) given before radical prostatectomy in patients with localized (non-metastatic) prostate cancer of Gleason grade ≥8 that is positive by 18F-FDG-PET/CT scanning.
“We believe that 18F-FDG-PET/CT scanning prior radical prostatectomy is a useful tool to identify patients at very high risk of recurrence and progression in whom neoadjuvant treatments could be beneficial’’ said Dr Frédéric Pouliot. “Prostate cancer remains a significant unmet medical need and we believe that pembrolizumab may improve outcomes, particularly in this population of patients” said Dr. Fradet. “We are pleased to be working under the support of CQDM and the Fondation du CHU de Québec with our partner Merck Canada, to advance the options in prostate cancer and to identify biomarkers that could help predict those that will best respond to the therapy. This research contributes to position the CHU de Québec-Université Laval Research Center among the leaders in medical innovation.” said Dr. Fradet.
“The collaboration between the CHU de Québec-Université Laval and Merck Canada exemplifies the effectiveness of partnerships between academia and the private sector to drive health innovations even further. We are pleased to support Professors Yves Fradet and Frédéric Pouliot in their mission to advance our understanding of prostate cancer. This partnership demonstrates the power of teamwork as leverage to further advance research,” said Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister of the Economy and Innovation and Minister responsible for Lanaudière.
CQDM is a biopharma-based research consortium created in 2008 with the mission to fund the development of innovative technologies to accelerate the discovery and development of drugs and vaccines. 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 to 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. CQDM receives contributions from Quebec’s Ministry of Economy and Innovation (MEI), from large pharmaceutical companies, and from the Government of Canada under the Business-Led Networks of Centres of Excellence Program (BL-NCE). Contact: https://cqdm.org/en.
About Merck CANADA
For more than 125 years, Merck, known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world’s most challenging diseases in pursuit of our mission to save and improve lives. We demonstrate our commitment to patients and population health by increasing access to health care through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. Today, Merck continues to be at the forefront of research to prevent and treat diseases that threaten people and animals – including cancer, infectious diseases such as HIV and Ebola, and emerging animal diseases – as we aspire to be the premier research-intensive biopharmaceutical company in the world.
In Canada, Merck markets a broad range of vaccines, pharmaceutical and animal health products and is one of the top R&D investors in Canada, with investments totaling $69 million in 2018 and more than $1 billion since 2000. Based in Kirkland, Québec, Merck employs approximately 680 people across the country. For more information about our operations in Canada, visit http://www.merck.ca and connect with us on YouTube and Twitter @MerckCanada.
About CHU de Québec-Université Laval and Centre de recherche du CHU de Québec-Université Laval
Bringing together the CHUL, Hôtel-Dieu de Québec, Hôpital de L’Enfant-Jésus, Hôpital du Saint-Sacrement and Hôpital Saint-François d’Assise, the CHU de Québec-Université Laval is the most important academic health care center in Québec and one of the largest in Canada. Providing general and specialized care, but especially sub specialized, the CHU de Québec-Université Laval serves the population of eastern Québec, a pool of nearly two million people. Closely linked to Université Laval and oriented towards the future, it also has a mission of teaching, research in many fields of excellence and evaluation of technologies and modes of intervention in health. The CHU de Québec-Université Laval has more than 12,500 employees, 1,500 physicians, dentists and pharmacists, and 425 volunteers (www.chudequebec.ca).
Its research center gathers 527 researchers, 1434 employees, as well as 1001 students (www.crchudequebec.ulaval.ca). With nearly $110 M in research funding, the Centre de recherche du CHU de Québec-Université Laval is the largest French-language health research center in North America and ranks ninth in Canada according to Canada’s Top 40 Research Hospitals 2018. It has also been rated “Exceptional “by the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQS) following its most recent evaluation, in 2018.
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