Montréal – Québec – January 12th, 2022 –CQDM is pleased to announce a grant for a collaboration between McGill University, Neurasic Therapeutics, McGill University’s Healthy Brains, Healthy Lives (HBHL) initiative and the Louise and Alan Edwards Foundation.

This collaborative research project, driven by the leadership of Philippe Séguéla, a neuroscientist globally recognized as a pioneer in the identification of pain channel genes and non-opioid analgesic mechanisms, has the potential to provide key steps towards the development of a new class of analgesics designed to combat refractory pain without the side effects of opioids. This project funding of a total of $965,000 is made possible by a contribution of $426,000 from Québec’s Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation.
“The development of this new class of analgesics shows that collaboration in the health sciences sector is a strategy that generates productive and innovative partnerships. Research is the creative force behind new knowledge, which must be applied for the benefit of all,” underscores Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister of Economy and Innovation and Minister Responsible for Regional Economic Development.

Based upon CQDM’s collaborative research model that supports the economic development of the life science sector in Québec, this project is carried out in partnership with Neurasic Therapeutics, a Montreal-based company founded by AmorChem II Fund and adMare BioInnovations. Neurasic’s primary objective is to identify potent inhibitors of specific neuronal receptors to manage and relieve pain in specific indications such as chronic inflammatory pain, bone cancer pain and post-surgical pain. Dr. Séguéla’s team will therefore aim at discovering novel analgesics by targeting a so far untapped gene family of pain transducers called the acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs).

Dr. Séguéla has demonstrated the importance of ASICs as a new non-opioid therapeutic target for the treatment of pain, as they are pH sensors expressed in the sensory neurons. By exploiting virtual screening methods of compound libraries, this project will lead to the in-silico identification of ASIC blockers, which will then be validated and characterized by in vitro assays in mammalian cells and finally tested in vivo in animal models of pathological pain. Once the project is completed, the preclinical proof of concept of ASICs as therapeutic targets will be achieved.

“This project is a great example of how collaborative effort can achieve powerful action. CQDM is proud to have the ability to help a Montreal-based SME like Neurasic through innovation funding. This support could give the company access to discoveries and markets that were previously out of reach,” said Diane Gosselin, President and CEO of CQDM.

“I am grateful to CQDM for the support provided by this SynergiQc grant. With these additional resources, we will be able to expand our portfolio of selective blockers of neuronal ASIC pH sensors as novel non-opioid painkillers,” said Philippe Séguéla, Professor of Neuroscience at McGill University. “Our discovery strategy is based on a multidisciplinary approach combining electrophysiology, molecular pharmacology and in silico drug screening on 3D protein structures. This is made possible thanks to our university-industry partnership with Neurasic Therapeutics, and with the financial help of McGill HBHL as well as of the Louise and Alan Edwards Foundation. Together, our aim is to open a new path toward providing effective analgesia and sustained relief to the many patients suffering from chronic pain.”

“Early-stage drug discovery is a resource-intensive endeavour and Neurasic’s investors, adMare and AmorChem, are very satisfied to see that the MEI recognizes the importance of its financial contribution to the success of start-up companies such as ours,” said Inès Holzbaur, member of the board of directors of Neurasic.

For Xavier Linker, Associate Director Business Development from McGill University’s Healthy Brains, Healthy Lives initiative: “Through its Neuro-Partnerships Program, HBHL is proud to help fund this new project in collaboration with CQDM and other industry partners. As this project aims to provide new opiate-sparing pain-relieving drugs, it aligns perfectly with HBHL’s vision to improve the quality of life of Canadians and people around the world. Furthermore, funding this project builds on the previous work done by NeuroSphere, McGill’s neuroscience accelerator funded through HBHL, to help start Neurasic Therapeutics.”

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 and more effective drugs. We bring together world-class pharmaceutical corporations, several Canadian biotech companies, the best scientists from both the public and private sectors, as well as the Canadian and Québec governments. CQDM’s collaborative approach bridges the funding gap needed to drive innovation across the academic and private sectors, especially where early-stage research is concerned. For more information – www.cqdm.org, LinkedIn and Twitter.

About Neurasic Therapeutics
Neurasic Therapeutics was launched in June 2020 by adMare BioInnovations, Canada’s Global Life Sciences Venture, and AmorChem II Fund l.p., a leading early-stage venture capital fund, to advance research that aims to provide new opiate-sparing pain-relieving drugs.

About the HBHL (Healthy Brains, Healthy Lives)
Healthy Brains, Healthy Lives (HBHL) aims to accelerate translational discoveries and create a global centre of excellence in neuroinformatics at McGill University. Supported by the Canada First Research Excellence Fund, Quebec’s Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation and the Fonds de recherche du Québec (FRQS, FRQSC and FRQNT), HBHL builds on McGill’s scientific excellence and global leadership in areas of neuroscience that hold great promise for delivering implementable, clinically effective outcomes in brain and mental health.

About the Louise and Alan Edwards Foundation
The Louise and Alan Edwards Foundation is committed to improving the quality of life of those living with chronic pain. We support clinical care, for both adults and children, at the MUHC, and support cutting edge research in both the clinical and basic sciences at McGill University.

Information:
CQDM
Elodie Pastural
Director, Portfolio & Impacts
epastural@cqdm.org