Takeda and Montreal Neurological Institute Team Up to Research New ALS Therapies

Margarida Azevedo, MSc avatar

by Margarida Azevedo, MSc |

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Montreal Neurological Institute

Takeda Canada and the Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI) are teaming up to conduct joint research aimed at developing new therapies for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

The collaborative effort includes developing and examining multiple cell assays from ALS patients over the next three years, from 2017 to 2020, to advance ALS therapy discovery.

“Takeda is very pleased to be collaborating with the Montreal Neurological Institute, a world-renowned center for central nervous system (CNS) research,” Ceri Davies, PhD, head of Takeda’s CNS Drug Discovery Unit, said in a press release.

“Partnerships such as this bring to the forefront the extraordinary drug research talent and expertise that exists in Canada,” added Chatrick Paul, general manager of Takeda Canada.

The research will be made openly available to other researchers under the MNI’s Open Research platform. According to MNI, its open-science policy has a number of benefits, including the inclusion of all non-sensitive supporting data, which enables further analysis in the future. Data notes and case reports — including negative results — also can be accessed with the goal of advancing science.

The MNI has the largest ALS program in eastern Canada, following over 300 patients and adding over 100 new ones each year. Through the Open Drug Discovery Platform at the MNI’s Tanenbaum Open Science Institute (TOSI), researchers have been using patient samples to develop human-induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) that can be genetically reprogrammed to become any cell in the human body, including motor neurons for ALS. These cells have been included in clinical assays that can be used to test potential drug therapies.

“We are hopeful that the fundamental research conducted through this program and made openly available to scientists around the world will accelerate much-needed new treatments for this very serious condition. This is an important milestone for the Tanenbaum Open Science Institute (TOSI), recently created at the MNI,” said Guy Rouleau, director of the MNI.

According to the ALS Society of Canada, ALS affects about 3,000 people in Canada, and more than 200,000 people worldwide. Two drugs currently are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of ALS: Rilutek (riluzole) and Radicava (edavarone).