CQDM sets up a collaboration between Simon Fraser University, Amgen, Merck, Servier and GlycoNet


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CQDM sets up a collaboration between Simon Fraser University, Amgen, Merck, Servier and GlycoNet to develop new chemistry to facilitate drug development and manufacturing

MONTREAL, June 2nd, 2021 – CQDM is proud to announce a partnership with 3 major pharmaceutical companies, Amgen Canada, Merck Canada, Servier Canada and the Canadian Glycomics Network (GlycoNet) as part of a $1,251,900 funding project. This initiative will lead to the development of novel chemistry to accelerate drug discovery and manufacturing by the Britton Group at Simon Fraser University (SFU – British Columbia). Dr. Robert Britton and his team will explore new approaches to discover and manufacture medicines, reducing the substantial costs associated with manufacturing and research.

This project is a perfect example of what CQDM can bring to the Canadian life sciences ecosystem. We are enabling a Canadian laboratory to benefit from the investments and mentoring of three world-renowned scientific companies, to accelerate the discovery of innovative drugs, and, in the process, significantly reduce the costs of drug production, which can be a major barrier to innovation,” said Jesse Paterson, Senior Director, Business Development at CQDM.

Nucleoside analogues (NAs) that target viral and cell replication have delivered generations of anti-cancer and antiviral drugs. The importance of developing novel NA therapies was recently highlighted by the repurposing of the anti-viral NA remdesivir to treat COVID-19.  In addition, the growth of RNA therapies has expanded the application of NAs with the use of modified NAs to improve these therapies potency and stability.

Despite the previous success in developing NA therapies, the full potential of NA drug development has not been realized, in large part as a result of multi-step chemical synthesis pathways that have limited NA discovery and increased the time and cost of NA manufacturing. The Britton Group’s novel chemistry can synthesize NA in 3-5 steps and furthermore allows the synthesis and discovery of diverse classes of NA that could not be synthesized using previous chemistry methods. This innovative research has the potential to facilitate drug discovery by unlocking the discovery of novel classes of NA and the potential to reduce drug development costs and times by accelerating NA manufacturing.

“Nucleoside analogue synthesis remains an unsolved problem in chemistry impeding the discovery and development of future medicines and we are thrilled to work with Prof. Britton in inventing new synthetic methods which will enable scientists in the future” said L.-C. Campeau, Executive Director, Head of Process Chemistry at Merck. “It is by working together through collaborations such as this one that we will find solutions to help accelerate the discovery and development of innovative treatments”.

“We are very excited to be working with Dr. Britton’s leading research team to enable our therapeutic discovery efforts”, stated Chadwick King, Executive Director of Research at Amgen British Columbia. “Amgen’s partnership with CQDM has allowed us to successfully leverage the consortium to facilitate this valuable research. Amgen values the interactions it has with Simon Fraser University. We have enjoyed many co-op student and post-doctoral fellow placements from this key school, and we are delighted to extend our scientific collaboration.”

“We are glad to be part of this consortium with Dr. Robert Britton and his team at Simon Fraser University to co-construct innovative nucleosides and fulfill our ambition to generate high value novel therapeutic solutions serving urgent medical needs in neurodegenerative diseases”, said Wesley Blackaby, Head of Chemistry and Analytical Chemistry, Drug Design and Small Molecules Unit at Servier.

“We are delighted to continue our partnership with CQDM to advance Dr. Britton’s project,” said Elizabeth Nanak, Chief Executive Officer at GlycoNet. “This collaboration exemplifies how GlycoNet supports Canadian researchers while guiding translational projects along the innovation continuum to reach their commercialization potential. Such partnerships are essential to transform scientific breakthroughs into tangible benefits for Canadians.”

About CQDM

CQDM is a biopharmaceutical research consortium whose mission is to fund the development of innovative tools and technologies that will accelerate the discovery and development of safer and more effective drugs. We bring together world-class pharmaceutical corporations, several Canadian biotech companies, the best scientists from both the public and private sectors, as well as the Canadian and Quebec governments. CQDM’s collaborative approach bridges the funding gap needed to drive innovation across the academic and private sectors, especially where early-stage research is concerned.

About Merck

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. For more information about our operations in Canada, visit www.merck.ca and connect with us on YouTube and Twitter @MerckCanada.

About Amgen Canada

As a leader in innovation, Amgen Canada understands the value of science. With main operations located in Mississauga, Ont.’s vibrant biomedical cluster, and its research facility in Burnaby, B.C., Amgen Canada has been an important contributor to advancements in science and innovation in Canada since 1991. The company contributes to the development of new therapies and new uses for existing medicines in partnership with many of Canada’s leading health-care, academic, research, government and patient organizations. To learn more about Amgen Canada, visit www.amgen.ca.

About Servier

Servier is a global pharmaceutical group governed by a Foundation. With a strong international presence in 150 countries and a total revenue of 4.7 billion euros in 2020, Servier employs 22,500 people worldwide. Servier is an independent group that invests over 20% of its brand-name revenue in Research and Development every year. To accelerate therapeutic innovation for the benefit of patients, the Group is committed to open and collaborative innovation with academic partners, pharmaceutical groups, and biotech companies. It also integrates the patient\’s voice at the heart of its activities, from research to support beyond the pill.

A leader in cardiology, the ambition of the Servier Group is to become a recognized and innovative player in oncology. Its growth is based on a sustained commitment to cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, oncology, and immuno-inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases. To promote access to healthcare for all, the Servier Group also offers a range of quality generic drugs covering most pathologies. More information: www.servier.com.

Servier has been present in Canada since 1978. More information is available at www.servier.ca.

About GlycoNet

GlycoNet is advancing research, innovation, and training in glycomics to improve the quality of life of Canadians. GlycoNet is a one-stop global destination focused on developing new carbohydrate-based drugs, vaccines and diagnostics, in collaboration with academic and industry organizations to address areas of unmet need through applied glycomics research. Funded by the federal Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) program and a range of partners, the network includes over 170 researchers across Canada who focus on cancer, chronic diseases, infectious diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases. This national platform supports translational research, protection of intellectual property, novel drug development, company formation and training.


For more information:

Jesse Paterson
Senior Director, Business Development

Natasha Bond
Corporate Affairs

Merck Canada Media Relations: 1-833-90MERCK (1-833-906-3725)

Nadine Doucet

Ali Chou
Communications Associate

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