Growth of cutting-edge therapies in Montreal: The Sidney-Altman therapeutic RNA center is born – udemnouvelles

Sydney Altman

Sydney Altman

Photo credit: Courtesy

At its foundation’s annual gala, the Montreal Clinical Research Institute (IRCM) announced the creation of its Sidney Altman Center for Therapeutic RNA, a large-scale project to develop cutting-edge therapeutic approaches carried out in close collaboration with the University of Montreal Network. It will bring together the driving forces in this field in the metropolis to offer life-saving therapies.

“Montreal is increasingly establishing itself as a center of excellence for research and care around RNA technologies and personalized medicine, whose capabilities on the front lines of serious diseases will rapidly expand,” said Dr. Jean-François Côté, President and Scientific Director of the IRCM. By using the name Dr. Sidney Altman associated with this initiative, we wanted to pay tribute to a great Montrealer and a great Quebecer, Nobel laureate in chemistry and pioneer of RNA, who was a resident professor at IRCM and a visiting professor shortly before his death in 2022 the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine at the UdeM. His work inspires us and we want to build on his legacy of excellence. This pole is the embodiment of that.”

“Precision medicine, a booming field, is the focus of many of our faculty’s research projects,” said Dr. Patrick Cossette, dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Montreal. Therefore, it is natural for us to actively support this innovative project with a focus on therapeutic RNA and its clinical applications, especially since IRCM scientists are an integral part of the UdeM faculty. Their progress and discoveries in this field are also incorporated into their teaching, strengthening our commitment to this future path of medical research.”

What’s new

RNA-based therapies and RNA-targeted therapies represent a focus for the future of biomedical and biopharmaceutical research and may provide innovative new approaches to combat rare or infectious common human diseases, including previously incurable diseases. The purpose of IRCM’s Sidney-Altman Therapeutic RNA Center is to provide researchers and physicians with the tools necessary to treat diseases using RNA therapies. The focus of this project is the creation of a therapeutic RNA platform that provides specialized and turnkey design services (bioinformatics – artificial intelligence), synthesis, validation and optimization of DNA molecules on a small scale. Therapeutic RNAs. This also includes biodistribution and toxicity analysis capabilities to facilitate the transition from preclinical stages to IND-ready and clinical trials.

For this project, IRCM will complete its facilities through the acquisition and completion of its existing RNA platforms, such as the disease modeling platform, which creates humanized animal models, and the organoid platform, which enables the use of samples from patients. Experienced researchers in the field are already working to advance the science and its concrete applications, supported by the technology platform teams.

Around ten projects are being carried out at IRCM to develop therapies for various cardiometabolic, neurodegenerative diseases and cancer in close collaboration with important public and private partners in the industry.

The strength of a network

The development of the Sidney Altman Center for Therapeutic RNA is being carried out in collaboration with several major organizations in the science and health network, including the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital Research Center, the CHU Research Center Sainte-Justine and the University of Montreal Hospital Center Research Center , the Montreal Heart Institute, the UdeM’s Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer and the University of Montreal and its Research Center for Biomedical Innovation.

The IRCM in brief

The Montreal Clinical Research Institute (IRCM) is a center of scientific knowledge and an internationally renowned biomedical research institute in the heart of Montreal’s university environment. Founded in 1967, IRCM was the first research center in Quebec to bring together fundamentalist researchers and clinicians under one roof. A unique model at the time, IRCM is now one of the most efficient research centers in the country, striving to nurture the next generation of scientists at the highest levels and encourage innovation. The IRCM excels in many areas of the life sciences, including promising work in cancer research, immunology, virology, neurobiology, rare diseases and the field of therapeutic RNA.


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