Neuro-CERVO Alliance partners with Simmunome, a Montreal-based artificial intelligence company


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MONTREAL, Canada, July 18, 2023 – The Neuro-CERVO Alliance has teamed up with Simmunome, a Montreal-based artificial intelligence company, to understand the mechanisms of neurological diseases and accelerate drug development.

The recent Neuro-CERVO Alliance for Drug Discovery (ANCDM) initiative welcomes a new Montreal-based private partner, Simmunome, to unravel biological pathways and identify biomarkers involved in neurological and psychiatric disorders. Simmunome’s expertise in simulating disease states will be invaluable in uncovering potential therapeutic targets for these devastating conditions.

Finding the right target – a constant challenge

Worldwide, over 80 million people suffer from neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, and major psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The lack of effective treatments is placing increasing pressure on patients, their families and society as a whole. Despite extensive research over several decades, there are still few treatments and no cures to speak of for the majority of brain disorders. Moreover, identifying the cellular pathways and molecular targets crucial to drug development remains a challenge.

The high cost and long duration of experimentation associated with testing putative individual targets in cellular or in vivo models makes it difficult to rapidly screen multiple genes or pathways of interest to identify the most promising. The discovery process is slowed down because researchers often devote their energy and time to testing targets and molecules that end up failing to deliver on their promises. As a result, few treatments are tested in the clinic, and even fewer reach the market. The clinical, pathological and genetic heterogeneity of patients contributes to treatment failure in clinical trials. It’s time for the scientific approach to change.

The approach – Combining the power of AI and validation in patient cells

The Simmunome approach combines multi-omics data to build accurate and comprehensive in silico models to understand disease causal mechanisms. Focusing on neurological diseases, Simmunome brings transparency to the diagnosis of poorly understood diseases and the mechanisms of progression.

The collaboration between ANCDM and Simmunome will facilitate the drug discovery process by developing relevant in silico disease models, enabling scientists to test numerous potential targets and therapies computationally, rapidly and at low cost, in order to identify the most promising before investing time and resources in their validation. The aim of this partnership is to understand population subgroups within given neurological and psychiatric diseases at the molecular level, and to establish the causal link with clinical outcomes.

As part of the Neuro’s Open Science initiative, the ANCDM provides Simmunome with data collected from patient samples. This data is used to feed and enrich Simmunome’s models, making them as representative as possible of disorders and increasing the accuracy of predictions when testing the efficacy of potential therapies. In addition, through The Neuro’s Early Drug Discovery Platform (EDDP), the ANCDM provides Simmunome with a platform to validate its results in the laboratory. Here, identified targets can be tested in human cell models based on induced pluripotent stem cells derived from real patients. Eventually, preclinical drug screening in human cells based on in silico results could be envisaged. This approach should make it possible to identify causal biomarkers and mechanisms of onset and progression of neurological disorders, as well as to develop new, effective therapies tailored to sub-groups of patients.

“As research approaches evolve towards big data and multimodal data integration, data analysis and interpretation become one of our key challenges. Thanks to the collaboration between ANCDM and Simmunome, we are taking a major step forward in meeting this challenge. We are convinced that the combination of AI-based modeling for data analysis and validation of results in laboratory patient-derived cellular models is essential to elucidate critical pathological mechanisms of neurological disorders, which are still very poorly understood,” says Dr. Edward Fon, Scientific Director of The Neuro and ANCDM co-principal investigator.

“We are absolutely delighted to join the ANCDM initiative. As part of this collaboration, we will leverage our innovative platform to unravel the complex biological mechanisms underlying these debilitating conditions. Our participation in ANCDM reflects our unwavering commitment to advancing scientific understanding and contributing to the development of personalized therapies that can transform the lives of millions of patients, their families and society as a whole. We are proud to be part of this visionary effort and look forward to working alongside the other members of the alliance to achieve significant advances in neuroscience,” said Dr Armstrong Murira, CEO and co-founder of Simmunome.

Find out more about the Neuro-CERVO Alliance for the Discovery of Medicines for Brain Diseases

The ANCDM initiative, which brings together McGill University’s Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) and the CERVO Brain Research Centre of the CIUSSS de la Capitale-Nationale, affiliated with Université Laval, has received funding of $7 million in 2021 for three years from the Ministère de l’Économie, de l’Innovation et de l’Énergie, through its Fonds d’accélération des collaborations en santé, administered by the Consortium de recherche biopharmaceutique du Québec (CQDM). This funding was complemented by private and philanthropic funds, bringing the NCADD partnership’s total funding to $15.32 million.

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For further information, please contact
Frédérique Larroquette
Scientific Operations Manager

Learn more about Simmunome

Simmunome is at the forefront of using AI to unravel biological complexity. Simmunome’s clinical development platform enables users to input preclinical and clinical data to gain disease-specific insights and help clinical R&D researchers make crucial go/no-go decisions. By combining multi-omics data to create comprehensive disease models, Simmunome simulates biological processes to identify new drug targets and predict and improve clinical outcomes. This approach enables highly accurate simulations of biological processes, for more faithful representations and predictions. Ultimately, Simmunome discourages clinical research, reduces R&D costs and significantly accelerates research and innovation in the healthcare field.

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Tanya Tolomeo
Business Development Manager

Find out more 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, more effective medicines. We bring together world-renowned pharmaceutical organizations, Canadian biotech companies, top researchers from the public and private sectors, and the Canadian and Quebec governments. CQDM’s collaborative approach fills the funding gap needed to stimulate innovation in the academic and private sectors, particularly in early-stage research.

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Carl Baillargeon
Senior Communications and Marketing Manager

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