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*XIAOLONG YANG

Mapping Genetic Interactions: A Path to Discover Efficacious Drug Targets


Challenge: One of the major challenges for disease treatment is the identification of efficacious drug targets. To overcome the problem, one proposed solution is the use of combined drug therapy that either targets two genes simultaneously or interfere with a single gene with loss-of-function of another one. In both cases this will induce cell synthetic lethality. A synthetic lethal screen … Read More

Monday October 28th, 2019


*PATRICK VERMETTE

Novel Methods to Evaluate Cardiac Activity of Pharmaceuticals: Identifying New Therapies and Predicting Cardiac Toxicity


Challenge: A major problem with protein-based therapeutics is their immunogenicity, i.e. their tendency to trigger an unwanted immune response against themselves. This leads to the activation of immune cells and secretion of anti-drug antibodies (ADA) that may contribute to an inactivation of the biologics and cause adverse clinical events. Therefore, there is a need in the pharmaceutical industry for assays to … Read More

Tuesday October 1st, 2019


*GORDON SHORE

Synthetic lethality platform to discover, test and validate new therapeutic treatment options for cancer


Challenge: In recent years, only 8% of new oncology drugs have been approved for clinical use. One of the major challenges has been matching an appropriate therapeutic strategy to a cancer indication due to the heterogeneity of the disease. Nevertheless, the personalized medicine approach is not a simple process, as each cancer type represents a unique disease that harbors a variety … Read More


*JASON MAYNES

Novel Methods to Evaluate Cardiac Activity of Pharmaceuticals: Identifying New Therapies and Predicting Cardiac Toxicity


Challenge: Current therapies for heart failure primarily relieve symptoms, but most fail to correct organ dysfunction. New therapies, to target and improve cardiomyocyte function, are challenging to develop because of the complex functions of the heart muscle and the difficulty in modeling heart cell behavior. The same problems underlie the difficulty in assessing the cardiotoxic side effects of drugs. There … Read More


*RICHARD KREMER

Platform for the enrichment of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) for characterization and sensitivity to anti-cancer drugs


Challenge: A major challenge in cancer therapy is to stop cancer cells before they metastasize to other tissues, at which point the disease may become resistant to therapeutic intervention. During cancer progression, circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are shed from the primary tumor or its metastatic sites and their number follow closely the progression of the disease. However, CTCs are heterogenous … Read More


*MICKEY BHATIA

Using Patient’s Blood to Develop a Sensory Neuron-Based Platform to Treat Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy


Challenge: The sensory neuron damage referred as “Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy” (CIPN) affects 30-40% of cancer patients in Canada. Sensory neurons transmit information from the brain to every other part of the body allowing movement and awareness of our environment. The deterioration of these cells from chemotherapy causes severe pain often leading to the interruption of chemotherapy treatments. Unfortunately, developing a … Read More

Thursday September 26th, 2019


*DERRICK GIBBINGS

Engineering Endogenous Vesicles as a Drug Delivery Platform to Inhibit Gene Expression Using microRNAs and Silencing RNAs


Challenge: Silencing RNAs (siRNAs) are small nucleic acids that can inhibit virtually any gene. Because most diseases could benefit from shutting-down the action of a specific protein encoded by its gene, it is suggested that siRNAs could be used to treat virtually any diseases. However, naked siRNA is unstable in the bloodstream and cannot efficiently cross cell membranes. So far, … Read More

Wednesday September 25th, 2019


*TERRY HÉBERT

FlAsH-Walk Mapping: An Innovative Step-by-Step Approach to G Protein-Coupled Receptor Conformation Cartography


Challenge: G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the largest target class for approved drugs. Identification of new drug candidates has relied exclusively on high-throughput assays which track binding properties and are limited to a restricted number of signaling pathways. GPCRs are highly dynamic proteins that undergo numerous conformational changes upon receptor association with ligands and related protein partners. The use of … Read More

Tuesday September 24th, 2019


*MICHEL MEUNIER

Novel Non-Invasive Laser-Assisted Intraocular Drug Delivery System for an Efficient and Selective Gene Transfer Therapy


Challenge: Retinal degenerative diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma, are the leading causes of vision loss and affect tens of millions of individuals in the world. Emerging solutions with nucleic acids and therapeutic genes show promise. However, there remains a void in effective and non-invasive drug delivery systems for the back of the eye, which has hindered the … Read More

Wednesday September 12th, 2018


TRAIAN SULEA

RecyTag technology for extended half-lives of small biologics


  Competition: Programme EXPLORE 2013 Funding: $499,000 / 2 years Platform technology aimed at increasing the half–life of small biologics by conjugating FcRn-binding molecules. Protein-based therapeutics, also called biologics, have recently made significant inroads into the pharmaceutical market, and are being used to treat chronic diseases and cancer. In addition to acting potently and specifically on their molecular targets, efficacious … Read More


TOMAS BABAK

Genetic interactions studies to better establish efficacious drug targets


  Competition: EXPLORE Program 2014 Funding: $300,000 / 2 years Beginning: June 2015 A major challenge for pharmaceutical companies is identifying efficacious drug targets. Genetic interactions, where the effects of disrupting multiple genes at once are measured, enable unbiased interrogation of functional relationships between any genes of interest. When applied to many genes systematically, an interaction network emerges, and this … Read More

Tuesday September 11th, 2018


JASON T. MAYNES

Measuring cardiac cell contraction to identify new therapies and predict cardiac toxicity


  Competition: EXPLORE Program 2015 Funding: $300,000 / 2 years Beginning: April 2016 Current therapies for heart failure primarily relieve disease symptoms, but most fail to correct the underlying organ dysfunction. New therapies, which are able to target and improve cardiomyocyte function, are challenging to develop, owing significantly to the complex functions of heart muscle and the difficultly in modeling … Read More


*IGOR STAGLJAR

Acting on membrane protein-protein interactions: Mammalian Membrane Two Hybrid (MaMTH) as an Innovative Technology for Drug Discovery Against Protein- Protein Interactions


Challenge: Membrane proteins, representing approximately one-third of all proteins in a cell, interact with each other and are responsible for a variety of processes, making them attractive therapeutic targets for many diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, neurological disorders and various cancers. In fact, membrane proteins represent 60% of all clinical drug targets, however, they are still extremely difficult to study … Read More


*CRAIG SIMMONS

Artificial Liver for Safer and more Effective Drugs: Three-Dimensional Liver Tissue Models for High-Throughput Screening of the Efficacy and Hepatotoxicity of Drugs


Challenge: Poor efficacy and unpredictable toxic effects are leading causes for the removal of drugs from the market. Many drugs act unpredictably in patients because the preclinical studies fail to accurately model human biology. In particular, the liver requires special attention as it is responsible for metabolizing drugs. Thus, improved liver models could identify and eliminate toxic and ineffective drugs … Read More


*GRACIELA PINEYRO

Monitoring Conformational Changes in Channel Proteins: A Novel Approach for Rapid Screening of Ion Channel Hits


Challenge: Ion channels are involved in numerous physiological functions, and as drug targets have been implicated in a wide range of pathological conditions. However, despite considerable effort, channel-targeted drug discovery has been hampered by the absence of adequate tools to functionally screen molecules that can modulate channel activity. Solution: The researchers have developed an innovative approach to identify compounds that … Read More


ROBERT BATEY

Unlocking a class of challenging drug targets using a next generation screening and lead development platform technology


  Competition: EXPLORE Program 2015 Funding: $300,000 / 2 years Beginning: April 2016 Protein-protein interactions (PPIs) play a crucial role in nearly all cellular processes. Protein complexes have been implicated in many debilitating human diseases, from cancer to viral infections. PPIs generally contain broad, shallow, and relatively featureless binding sites, hence they have historically been perceived as ‘undruggable’ targets in … Read More


*YVES ST-PIERRE

Dimer Interference: A novel Approach to Develop Galectin-7-Specific Inhibitors to treat Triple-Negative Breast Cancer


Challenge: Galectins are a family of lectin proteins implicated in tumor progression and immune evasion. When produced in excess by cancer cells, galectins can form homodimers and bind glycans on the surface of T cells. This suppresses the local and systemic immune response in patients, helping tumors to escape immune surveillance and limiting the efficacy of immuno-oncology treatments. To date, … Read More


*ANNE-MARIE MES-MASSON

Circumventing the need for predictive biomarkers in personalized ovarian cancer therapies: empirical chemosensitivity testing using a microfluidics-based multiplex platform


Challenge: Ovarian cancer is a leading cause of cancer death in women. Only a fraction of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer will respond to current therapies. In order to better tailor treatment to each patient, personalized medicine has turned to biomarkers that statistically evaluate the chances of a drug to be effective for a patient. Nevertheless, there is currently no … Read More


*EL BACHIR AFFAR

Facilitating Anti-Cancer Drug Discovery with Selective Inhibitors to Modulate the Protein Ubiquitination Process


Challenge: Human cells eliminate non-functional proteins using a sophisticated degradation pathway named the ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS), in which UPS enzymes attach a small protein called ubiquitin to damaged target proteins to tag them for degradation. However, abnormalities in protein degradation are frequently observed in many diseases, including cancer where aberrant control of protein degradation can lead to uncontrolled cell … Read More

Monday September 10th, 2018


*BRENT RICHARDS

Identification of T Cell Receptor Somatic Mutations Driving Autoimmunity in Human Rheumatoid Arthritis


Challenge: Somatic mutations are de novo non-inherited mutations which can be passed down to other cells through the course of cell division. Their role has been well-established in cancer. However, the presence of somatic mutations in non-malignant disease has never been explored since it is unlikely that a single point mutation would be sufficient to cause disease. Linking somatic mutations … Read More

Friday September 7th, 2018


*MICHAEL THOMPSON

New Processes Mimicking the Spray drying technique for the Preparation of Thermally Stable Vaccines


Challenge: The storage and worldwide distribution of vaccines represent complex issues for pharmaceutical companies due to vaccine instability at ambient temperatures. Spray drying is an established industrial processing technology for stabilizing many products as dried powders. Although studies have shown spray drying to be promising for preparing thermally stable vaccines in order to alleviate cold chain requirements, to date, no … Read More


*DANIEL LAROCQUE

A new platform to Assess Antigen Destruction and Evaluate the Efficacy of Immunotherapies and Vaccines


Challenge: The fight against cancer, infectious diseases and chronic disorders has been significantly advanced because of the development of effective immunotherapies, vaccines and immunomodulatory drugs. New pre-clinical tools to enable this new active field of drug discovery are needed further upstream in the discovery process. More functional and physiologically relevant readouts are necessary to address the lack of pre-clinical immunogenicity … Read More


*ENRICO PURISIMA

Novel in silico-assisted Platform to Rapidly Enhance Specificity and Affinity of Therapeutic Antibodies Against Their Targets


Challenge: The design of superior biologic therapeutics such as monoclonal antibodies, single-domain antibodies, and engineered proteins requires optimizing their ability to bind to disease targets. Antibodies offer many advantages over small molecules in treating diseases, but the process for generating them is complex, expensive and often requires further steps of affinity maturation to achieve the desired level of potency. Molecular … Read More

Thursday September 6th, 2018


*RAFAEL NAJMANOVICH

Detection of Molecular Interaction Field Similarities for the Rational Drug Design of Multi-Functional Inhibitors


Challenge: Binding promiscuity plays a major role in medicine as promiscuous drug interactions may lead to undesirable cross-reactivity effects. This represents a considerable challenge for the pharmaceutical industry. Drugs act by modulating the function of target proteins. However, additional off-site non-target proteins may also be affected due to similarities between binding sites. This unintentional effect may lead to the serendipitous … Read More


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