Montreal Neurological Institute and Thermo Fisher Scientific Partner to Accelerate Understanding of Brain Diseases

Margarida Azevedo, MSc avatar

by Margarida Azevedo, MSc |

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The Montreal Neurological Institute of McGill University and Thermo Fisher Scientific have recently partnered to accelerate the understanding of neurological disease by focusing on about 30 proteins associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other brain diseases.

The collaboration is part of an industry-and-academia effort to share expertise to develop improved methods to produce and characterize antibodies (proteins made by a type of white blood cells known as plasma cells in response to an antigen — a substance that causes the body to make a specific immune response) and reagents (substances used in chemical reactions to detect, measure, or make other substances) for neurological research.

Thermo Fisher will first generate antibodies for proteins that science has associated with particular neurological diseases, including ALS. Antibodies are a useful resource to study the function and location of proteins.

Then, using its ABfinity antibody technology, Thermo Fisher researchers will generate rabbit recombinant antibodies derived from B-cells, which have the advantage of being robust and reproducible.

Montreal Neurological Institute investigators will then generate cell lines lacking the proteins as a mechanism to validate the antibodies, and then use them to advance the understanding of these disorders.

Both institutions will collaborate to characterize these reagents. After the experiment, a joint team will confirm if proteins are binding definitively by running several tests using the cell lines lacking the proteins generated at Montreal Neurological Institute as a control.

“We are pleased to partner with Thermo Fisher Scientific, a company that has a strong and proven reputation for its manufacture of antibodies,” Peter McPherson, a researcher at the Montreal Neurological Institute whose lab will participate in the partnership, said in a press release. “We are also delighted that Thermo Fisher is supportive of our Open Science Initiative and its mandate to make reagents and tools available to the community.”

In 2016, the Montreal Neurological Institute became the first institute in the world to fully embrace the Open Science philosophy, creating the Tanenbaum Open Science Institute. Since its founding in 1934, the institute has grown to be one of the largest specialized neuroscience research and clinical centers in the world.

The institute’s line of open science policy shapes the way its researchers conduct investigations, even when partnering with other institutions. One of the most important aspects of this policy is its approach to sharing scientific data.

“This important work combines the expertise of industry and academia to develop and characterize world-class, robust tools to study diseases,” added Matt Baker, from Thermo Fisher Scientific. “By working with scientists at the Montreal Neurological Institute, our antibodies will be screened in the most relevant models by experts who are leaders in this field, resulting in high-value reagents for the entire research community.”

This partnership is the most recent open science agreement the Montreal Neurological Institute has entered into to develop effective therapies for neurological disease. Prior efforts include partnerships with the Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD), Merck, the Structural Genomics Consortium and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company.