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INRS receives more than $1.5 million for its collaboration in the project Le Consortium Acuité-Qc

December 13, 2021 | Audrey-Maude Vézina

Update : May 5, 2023

Funded by the MEI for $13.8 million, this drug development project is led by the Université de Sherbrooke.

Pipette and test tube

NRS has state-of-the-art infrastructures and highly-qualified scientific personnel in medicinal chemistry, biophysics and pharmacology.

The Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) has been awarded $1.5 million for its collaboration in the project “Le Consortium Acuité-Qc: prédire et visualiser l’action du medicament”. Led by the Université de Sherbrooke, this $13.8 million project, funded by the Government of Quebec, is part of the second call for projects of the Fonds d’accélération des collaborations en santé (FACS). Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister of Economy and Innovation and Minister responsible for Regional Economic Development, made the announcement today.

This large-scale project involves INRS Professor Steven Laplante as a co-applicant; he is an expert in the discovery of therapeutic molecules and tools to study their properties. He will contribute to the early integration of advanced biophysical techniques to guide the design of molecular databases called chemical libraries.   

“INRS has state-of-the-art infrastructures and highly-qualified scientific personnel in medicinal chemistry, biophysics and pharmacology. This project is an opportunity not only to take advantage of our expertise but also to provide our students with the opportunity to learn in a particularly interesting context.”

Steven Laplante, scientific co-head of the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy Laboratory

Drug discovery

The Consortium Acuité-Qc aims at synthesizing chemical libraries based on the DEL (DNA-encoded libraries) technology, to improve the service offered for pharmaceutical research in Québec and abroad. The multidisciplinary project team will use an innovative synthesis technology and will take advantage of artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze tens of millions of molecules based on their pharmaceutical significance.  

Throughout the project, collaborators will benefit from INRS’s Armand-Frappier Santé Biotechnologie Research Centre facilities, including new nuclear magnetic resonance, biophysics, medicinal chemistry, and biochemistry laboratories.

“The involvement of Professor Laplante’s team in the project reflects a priority of INRS to further develop the interdisciplinary research field of drug discovery. By bringing together the strengths of Québec researchers, we will be able to meet the objectives of the Consortium Acuité-Qc,” said Claude Guertin, Interim Scientific Director.

Advancing from a therapeutic target to a drug requires the discovery of high-quality lead compounds. The new drug development platform will address the challenge of efficiently accessing and screening chemical libraries that combine high-quality biological, physicochemical and patentability properties, and span diverse chemical spaces.

The Consortium Acuité-Qc brings together the Université de Sherbrooke, the INRS, the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer of the Université de Montréal, the Centre hospitalier universitaire Sainte-Justine and the Mila Research Institute, as well as 18 private partners.

As a flagship measure of the 2017–2027 Québec Life Sciences Strategy, the FACS has to support ambitious projects that stimulate public-private collaborations. A total of four initiatives were selected at the end of FACS’ second call for projects, launched in June 2020. They account for investments of more than $74 million over three years, including $35 million in government support.