CQDM grants $1.15 M in funding to Professor Yves St-Pierre’s team to develop a revolutionary immunotherapy against breast cancer


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Pr. Yves St-Pierre – INRS

Montreal, June 18, 2020 – CQDM partners with the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS), the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation (QBCF), the Armand-Frappier Foundation, the Canadian Glycomics Network (GlycoNet), Zymeworks and Pfizer as part of a $1.15M funding agreement. These funds will enable Professor Yves St-Pierre and his colleagues, Professors David Chatenet and Nicolas Doucet, to advance their work on breast cancer treatment at the Institut national de recherche scientifique (INRS). They will provide the means to develop their technology to specifically inhibit the action of galectins, a class of proteins with immunosuppressive properties. Galectins are overexpressed in cancer cells, promoting the development of several cancers, including aggressive forms such as triple-negative breast cancer for which there are limited treatment options. This project will lay the foundation for a new generation of cancer immunotherapy and will benefit from the expertise of two of our Biopharmaceutical Consortium members active in the field of immuno-oncology, Zymeworks and Pfizer.

Funding for this project is made possible by a contribution greater than $538,000 from Quebec’s Ministry of Economy and Innovation.

“This initiative highlights the positive impact of connecting the research ecosystem with the pharmaceutical industry, particularly in the area of cancer treatment. It offers a promising outlook for the advancement of research and, ultimately, for patient outcomes. The Government of Quebec is proud to support this new business-research collaboration focused on knowledge and technology transfer,” said Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister of Economy and Innovation and Minister responsible for Lanaudière.

“We are pleased with this support, which follows several years of research into new treatments for this type of breast cancer, said Professor Yves St-Pierre. The success of this program is based on a multidisciplinary approach with a single idea in mind: to add new tools to the clinician\’s arsenal to increase the chances of success in defeating this type of cancer.”

“I am very pleased with this collaboration between six very different organizations that are pooling their resources for a common cause. This initiative demonstrates the power in numbers to move research forward. I’m also delighted to work with Zymeworks, a new CQDM member, as well as Pfizer, one of the three founding pharmaceutical companies of CQDM,” said Diane Gosselin, President and CEO of CQDM.

“We are enthusiastic about this collaboration with Professor St-Pierre and CQDM, which aligns with Zymeworks’ R&D and partnership strategies to invest in high-impact scientific innovation with the potential to expand our clinical development pipeline, said Tony Polverino, Ph.D., Executive Vice President, Early Development and Chief Scientific Officer at Zymeworks. Drawing on our collective strengths, we look forward to advancing this important immuno-oncology work towards potential next-generation cancer immunotherapy that benefit people with cancer.”

“At Pfizer, we apply science and our global resources to improve the health and well-being of Canadians at every stage of life. Breast cancer remains an important area of unmet medical need and we are pleased to be able to support Professor St-Pierre’s immunotherapy research project and contribute to the development of a vibrant Life Science cluster in Quebec,” said Dr. Vratislav Hadrava, Vice President, Medical Affairs, Pfizer Canada.

“This is one of the first projects that GlycoNet is co-financing with CQDM and its industrial partners. I am delighted to see this project move forward thanks to this collaboration. The collaboration represents a significant investment to advance the search for new treatments for breast cancer,” said Elizabeth Nanak, Executive Director at GlycoNet.

“Breast cancer remains the most common type of cancer in women across the country, hence the importance of funding research in this area. This research partnership between the Canadian Cancer Society, the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation, CQDM and several other collaborators, confirms our leadership and our desire to save more lives,” said Denis Lalonde, Executive Vice-President, Québec and French Canada, Canadian Cancer Society. \”Our goal is to support the most promising and hopeful projects. The work of Professor Yves St-Pierre from INRS will help several Quebec women affected by a type of breast cancer that is difficult to treat and for which there are few effective treatments. Our signature Life is bigger than cancer takes on its full meaning with the announcement of this project.”

“We are very proud to be part of this recognized institutions that share a common vision; increase breast cancer survival and improve the quality of life of people affected by breast cancer. This collaborative dynamic has paved the way for partnerships with renowned institutions, which leads to increased funding in breast cancer research aimed at making scientific, technological and medical innovation more readily available and with the utmost respect for patients,” said Karine-Iseult Ippersiel, President and Chief Executive Officer, Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation.

“The Armand-Frappier Foundation, whose mission is to support public health research, is proud to collaborate with six other partners for the funding of an innovative research project in immunotherapy against breast cancer. This multidisciplinary project is led by three teams from the Armand-Frappier Health Biotechnology Center at INRS. This initiative is the result of an exemplary collaboration and shared vision between the Government of Quebec, industry partners and organizations dedicated to the fight against breast cancer,” said Maral Tersakian, Executive Director, Armand-Frappier Foundation.

About CQDM

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). For more information: https://cqdm.orgen.


Diane Gosselin Ph. D., MBA, ASC
(514) 766-6661 (2191)

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