Advanced Therapies Get New Boost in Montreal: IRCM Inaugurates the Sidney-Altman RNA Therapeutic Hub

Advanced Therapies Get New Boost in Montreal: IRCM Inaugurates the Sidney-Altman RNA Therapeutic Hub

The Montreal Clinical Research Institute (IRCM) announced the launch of the Sidney-Altman RNA Therapeutic Hub at this year’s IRCM Foundation Annual Gala. Developed in close collaboration with the Université de Montréal network, this ambitious new project brings together some of the leading minds in RNA therapeutics, putting Montreal at the forefront of life-saving, cutting-edge RNA therapies.

“Montreal is increasingly becoming a centre of excellence for RNA technologies and personalized medicine. We need to intensify our efforts to advance research, find urgently needed treatments for major diseases, and improve patient care,” Dr. Jean-François Coté, President and Scientific Director of the IRCM, said. “We named our new institution after Dr. Sidney Altman to pay tribute to a pioneer in RNA medicine research. Dr. Altman was a Nobel Prize in Chemistry and a great all-around Montrealer and Quebecer. Shortly before his death in 2022, he had joined the IRCM as Professor in Residence, as well as the Université de Montréal’s Faculty of Medicine as a Visiting Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine. Dr. Altman’s work is an inspiration. This centre is our way of building on his legacy.”

‘’Precision medicine, a fast-growing field, is at the heart of many of our Faculty's research projects," says Dr. Patrick Cossette, Dean of the Université de Montréal Faculty of Medicine. So it's only natural for us to actively support this innovative project focusing on RNA therapeutics and their clinical applications, especially since IRCM scientists are an integral part of the UdeM faculty. Their cutting-edge advances and discoveries in this field also feed into their teaching, reinforcing our commitment to this forward-looking avenue of medical research."

What’s new

RNA-based and RNA-targeted therapies will be the focal point for future biomedical and biopharmaceutical research. They offer an innovative new approach to targeting human diseases, and rare, common, infectious, and even previously untreatable conditions. The IRCM’s Sidney-Altman RNA Therapeutic Hub will provide the tools researchers and physicians need to treat diseases using RNA therapies. The centrepiece of the initiative is a new therapeutic RNA platform enabling specialized, turnkey services in the design (using bioinformatics/artificial intelligence), synthesis, validation, and optimization of small molecule RNA therapeutics. It also provides biodistribution and toxicity testing capabilities to facilitate the transition from the preclinical stage to IND-enabling testing and clinical studies. 

Ten new projects in the pipeline include therapies for various types of cancer, and cardiometabolic and neurodegenerative diseases. The IRCM has been working closely with major public and private partners on these developments.

Expanding our network

Several major institutions in the health sciences network will be participating in this initiative, including the Centre de recherche de l’Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont, the Centre de recherche du CHU Sainte-Justine, the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal Research Centre (CRCHUM), the Montreal Heart Institute (MHI), the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC), and the Centre d’innovation biomédicale (CIB).

Why this matters

Despite an undeniable pool of expertise in Montreal, and in Quebec at large, we have yet to tap into the full potential of RNA therapies. In establishing the Sidney-Altman RNA Therapeutic Hub, the IRCM is poised to become a powerful engine of growth and innovation in RNA therapeutics. This not only means good news for the health of our fellow citizens, but also a major boost to the economy.

About the IRCM

The IRCM is an internationally renowned hub for biomedical research located in the heart of Montreal’s academic community. Founded in 1967, it was the first centre in Quebec to bring researchers in clinical and fundamental science together under one roof. Though the model was novel at the time, the IRCM is now one of the most successful research centres in the country, fostering cutting-edge innovation, nurturing the scientific minds of our next generation, and pioneering promising top-level research in many areas of life sciences. The IRCM is leading the way with groundbreaking research in cancer, immunology, virology, neurobiology, as well as rare diseases.


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