A new Canadian open science partnership will develop precision drugs for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Parkinson’s disease (PD). A grant from Québec’s Ministry of Economy and Innovation, under its Fonds d’accélération des collaborations en santé (FACS), worth up to $2M, will fund this unique public-private partnership that includes The Neuro (Montréal Neurological Institute and Hospital), Takeda Pharmaceuticals and the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC). Takeda, SGC, and philanthropist J. Sebastian van Berkom will match the public funds providing up to a further $2M.
The Neuro is a world-leading destination for brain research and advanced patient care. Since its founding in 1934 by renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Wilder Penfield, The Neuro has grown to be the largest specialized neuroscience research and clinical center in Canada, and one of the largest in the world. In 2016, The Neuro became the first institute in the world to fully embrace the Open Science philosophy, creating the Tanenbaum Open Science Institute. The Neuro is affiliated with McGill University.
Called NeuroOme, the partnership will use a multi-omics approach that incorporates several genetic datasets for more precise screening of promising drug targets.
ALS and PD are very complex diseases and patients can have very different pathological, clinical and genetic characteristics. This makes developing drugs to target theses diseases very difficult. The goal of this precision medicine approach is to know more about each patient’s circumstances, and using that to divide them into more precise groups so treatments and clinical trials can be developed specially for them and have a higher success rate.
NeuroOme will bring together specialists in stem cells, drug screening, genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, bioinformatics and neuroinformatics to develop multi-omics data. It will be integrated into The Neuro’s Open Early Drug Discovery Unit, which develops induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) for use in screens to evaluate compounds which have potential to be the basis for effective drug treatments. The multi-Omics data will be used to improve these screens.
In keeping with The Neuro’s open science initiative, all data, cell-lines and reagents generated through this project will be made available to the scientific community to spark new partnerships and accelerate the discovery process. Clinical information and biological samples will be collected by The Neuro’s Open Biobank (C-BIGR), while NeuroHub, a McGill-wide open source neuroinformatics platform, will integrate datasets from multiple disciplines.
“NeuroOme is another important step towards developing precision therapies for patients with ALS and PD.” … “These diseases are incredibly complex, and the best way to treat them is to study each patient in depth – which is central to this project. This partnership will provide researchers with new data that will be used to improve clinical trials for the benefit of patients. Sharing this data through our open science initiative means there is a greater chance it will lead to a breakthrough.” – Dr. Guy Rouleau, Director of The Neuro and NeuroOme’s lead investigator