A first in North America: IRIC creates university-based drug discovery unit

    75 research teams join forces in the fight against cancer

    MONTREAL, Feb. 27 /CNW Telbec/ - The Université de Montréal Institute for
Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) and the University Research Group on
Drug Discovery (GRUM) have combined their expertise with the
Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital Research Centre to establish a Drug Discovery
Unit at the Université de Montréal (UdeM), a collaborative model that is the
first of its kind in North America. The new unit is announcing a research
agreement with Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (NYSE:  BMY).
    With support from both the public and the private sectors, the new
initiative will allow over 800 researchers on 75 teams to work together on
accelerating the development of innovative medications and bringing them to
the marketplace.
    "Scientific breakthroughs are promising to revolutionize the treatment of
cancer," says the IRIC's scientific director Dr. Guy Sauvageau. "But still too
little of the research done in laboratories is translated into new therapies
for patients. The Drug Discovery Unit will allow us to effectively build on
the most promising discoveries in order to develop new therapeutic agents."
    Under the project, UdeM researchers will continue making a contribution
to the growth of Canada's biopharmaceutical industry, one of the biggest
players in the country's knowledge-based economy. Nearly half of all new
medications are already derived from work that began in the academic sector.
The UdeM Drug Discovery Unit aims to forge partnerships with other public and
private sector stakeholders.
    "The biopharmaceutical industry is looking for new partnership models to
increase its productivity," says IRIC researcher Daniel Lamarre, who has been
one of the driving forces behind the creation of the UdeM Drug Discovery Unit.
"In this context, our unit can become a leading partner with industry."

    More benefits for the Montreal area

    The Drug Discovery Unit has recently partnered with Bristol-Myers Squibb
on a project to identify new therapeutic agents. Under the agreement, which
runs for three years, the pharmaceutical company will supply lead compounds. A
team of 12 chemists and biologists at the IRIC will work on optimizing them
for clinical evaluation.
    "We're delighted to be working together with Bristol-Myers Squibb on this
project in medicinal chemistry," says the Unit director, Michel Bouvier, who
is also GRUM founder and director. "This agreement allows us to pool our
complementary expertise and welcome medicinal chemists of international renown
into our ranks. This is great news for pharmaceutical research and industry in

    About the Université de Montréal Drug Discovery Unit

    The Université de Montréal Drug Discovery Unit is a coalition of 75 teams
from the UdeM Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC), the
University Research Group on Drug Discovery (GRUM) and the
Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital Research Centre. Its goal is to develop
innovative therapies, particularly in the fight against cancer. Its activities
cover the entire chain of discovery from identification and validation of
therapeutic targets to clinical trials.

    To learn more online about the Université de Montréal, please visit
    To learn more online about the IRIC, please visit www.iric.ca.
    To learn more online about the GRUM, please visit www.grum.umontreal.ca.
    To learn more online about the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital Research
    Centre, please visit www.maisonneuve-rosemont.org.

For further information:

For further information: Christian Lanctôt, Institute for Research in
Immunology and Cancer (IRIC), University of Montreal, (514) 343-6111,
extension 1-0315; To arrange an interview or visit the Institute for Research
in Immunology and Cancer, please contact Allard Hervieu Communications:
Véronique Gabrysz, (514) 499-3030, extension 3, vg@ahcom.ca

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Université de Montréal

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