IRCM aims to make Montreal a leader in RNA research – La Nouvelle Union

MONTREAL – The Montreal Clinical Research Institute (IRCM) aims to mobilize all of Montreal’s scientific expertise in the field of therapeutic RNA. To achieve this, he announced the creation of the Pôle Sidney-Altman in collaboration with the University of Montreal.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the general population has had the opportunity to become familiar with ribonucleic acid, or its shortened form, “RNA.” Thanks to this new therapeutic technology, vaccines to protect against the virus could be developed in record time.

IRCM made the official announcement of its new research center on Tuesday evening at its foundation’s annual gala. We also wanted to thank the late Dr. Pay tribute to Sidney Altman, a great Montrealer who was crowned with a Nobel Prize in Chemistry and a pioneer in the field of RNA study.

The director of the Research Unit for RNA and Non-Coding Mechanisms of Diseases, Martin Sauvageau, explains that the initiative aims to create a collaboration network between different research centers.

More specifically, the institutions involved are the Research Center of the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital, the Research Center of the CHU Sainte-Justine, the Research Center of the University of Montreal Hospital Center, the Montreal Heart Institute, the Immunology and Cancer Research Institute and the Biomedical Innovation Center.

Specifically, we want to integrate the entire development chain of new RNA-based therapies, from design to preclinical studies.

“We will provide expertise and services to develop this type of therapy,” he explains. For example, a lab targeting a gene that plays a role in a particular disease could benefit from a helping hand.

“We can help you develop a therapy that targets the RNA against this gene,” explains the microbiology and immunology expert.

Keep pushing

The team at the Sidney Altman Center not only aims to help develop new therapies, but also to further advance the effectiveness of this biomedical technology.

Martin Sauvageau emphasizes that there are still several challenges to be overcome, including how to target specific body tissues.

“Many of the drugs (now used) go into the liver. If you have liver disease, you can get this drug very well into the liver,” he describes in an interview with The Canadian Press.

“There are also other tissues we can target, but a lot still needs to be done to expand the range of diseases (that we can treat),” the research director adds.

In addition to supporting the work of other research centers in the city, IRCM also works on its own initiatives. Five projects on RNA are underway in his laboratories.

This work addresses therapies to combat cardiovascular disease, neurological diseases and cancer.

Martin Sauvageau insists on the “enormous potential” of RNA, which theoretically allows it to process every gene in the genome. “We can remove a gene, we can replace one if it is missing, or we can correct it if it is defective,” he lists.

By creating this laboratory network, we hope to accelerate the process of developing new therapies through concerted efforts.

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