CQDM joins forces with Neurasic Therapeutics, CSVS and the Louise and Alan Edwards Foundation to fund the development of a non-opioid analgesic

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Montreal, Quebec, January 12, 2022 – CQDM is proud to announce the awarding of a grant in collaboration with McGill University, Neurasic Therapeutics, McGill University’s Healthy Brain, Healthy Life (HBHL) initiative and the Louise and Alan Edwards Foundation.

This collaborative research project led by Professor Philippe Séguéla, a world-renowned neuroscientist and pioneer in the identification of pain genes and the mechanism of non-opioid analgesics, could lead to the development of a new class of analgesics capable of relieving persistent pain without the side effects of opioids. Funding for this $965,000 project has been made possible by a $426,000 contribution from the Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation du Québec (MEI).

Carried out jointly with Neurasic Therapeutics, a Montreal-based company founded by Fonds AmorChem II and adMare BioInnovations, this project is part of the collaborative research model favoured by CQDM to promote the economic development of Quebec’s life sciences sector. Neurasic’s main objective is to identify potent inhibitors acting on targeted neuronal receptors to treat and relieve pain in specific indications, including pain associated with chronic inflammation, bone cancer and post-operative pain. Philippe Séguéla’s team will seek to discover analgesics by scrutinizing a hitherto unexploited family of pain transducers: acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs).

Philippe Séguéla has revealed the non-opioid analgesic potential of ASIC receptors, as they are pH sensors expressed in sensory neurons. As part of this project, virtual screening of compound libraries will facilitate the in silico identification of ASIC receptor inhibitors. These will be validated and characterized by in vitro analysis of mammalian cells and in vivo experimentation on animal models of pathological pain. This project will lead to a preclinical proof of concept of ASIC receptors as a therapeutic target.

“The development of this new class of analgesics shows that collaboration in the life sciences sector is a strategy that generates fruitful and innovative partnerships. Research creates new knowledge, which must be applied for the benefit of all,” emphasizes Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister of the Economy and Innovation and Minister responsible for Regional Economic Development.

“This project epitomizes the power of a collaborative effort. CQDM is proud to seize this opportunity to help a Montreal SME like Neurasic innovate. This assistance could open the door to discoveries and markets otherwise out of reach for the company,” says Diane Gosselin, President and CEO of CQDM.

“I am grateful to CQDM for its support through a SynergiQc grant. With this additional funding, we will be able to expand our portfolio of inhibitors targeting ASIC sensory neuronal pH sensors, which represent a novel form of non-opioid analgesic,” says Philippe Séguéla, Professor of Neuroscience at McGill University. “Our discovery strategy takes a multidisciplinary approach based on electrophysiology, molecular pharmacology and in silico screening of three-dimensional protein structures. This project is made possible through a university-industry partnership with Neurasic Therapeutics, and with financial support from the CSVS initiative and the Louise and Alan Edwards Foundation. Together, we hope to offer new analgesic solutions to the many patients who suffer from chronic pain.”

“In its early stages, the discovery process is extremely resource-intensive, and Neurasic’s investors, adMare and AmorChem, are pleased that MEI recognizes the importance of its financial contribution to the success of start-ups like ours,” says Inès Holzbaur, Director of Neurasic’s Board of Directors.

According to Xavier Linker, Associate Director, Business Development, of McGill University’s Healthy Brain, Healthy Life initiative, “through its neuroscience partnership programs, CSVS is proud to fund this new project with CQDM and other industry partners. This project to provide non-opioid analgesics is in line with CSVS’s mission to improve the quality of life of Canadians and people around the world. In addition, this project builds on previous work done by NeuroSphere, McGill’s neuroscience gas pedal funded through CSVS, to help launch Neurasic Therapeutics.”

About CQDM

CQDM is a biopharmaceutical research consortium whose mission is to fund the development of innovative technologies and tools to accelerate the discovery and development of safer, more effective medicines. CQDM brings together the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, several Canadian biotech companies, top researchers from the public and private sectors, and the governments of Quebec and Canada. CQDM’s collaborative approach helps meet the financing needs of innovation in the academic and private sectors, particularly in the early stages of research. Information – www.cqdm.org, LinkedIn and Twitter.

About Neurasic Therapeutics

Neurasic Therapeutics was founded in June 2020 by adMare BioInnovations, Canada’s life sciences business partner, and Fonds Amorchem II S.E.C., an early-stage venture capital fund, with the mission of developing novel non-opioid analgesics.

About CSVS (Healthy Brain, Healthy Life)

The Healthy Brain, Healthy Life (HBHL) initiative aims to accelerate translational discoveries and establish a neuroinformatics hub at McGill University. Funded by the Apogee Canada Research Excellence Fund, the Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation and the Fonds de recherche du Québec (FRQS, FRQSC and FRQNT), the initiative builds on McGill’s scientific excellence and global leadership in the areas of neuroscience that hold the greatest promise for achieving clinically effective and actionable outcomes in brain and mental health.

About the Louise and Alan Edwards Foundation

The Louise and Alan Edwards Foundation is dedicated to improving the quality of life of people living with chronic pain. It funds clinical care for adults and children at the MUHC and supports cutting-edge clinical and basic research at McGill University.

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For further information, please contact

CQDM
Élodie Pastural
Director, Portfolio and Impacts
epastural@cqdm.org

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