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Montreal, October 7, 2019 – The Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) is proud to announce that the Consortium québécois pour la découverte du médicament (CQDM), the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) and Quebec biotech company Theratechnologies (TSX: TH) have granted UQAM Chemistry Department professor Borhane Annabi $1.7 million in financial support to develop a new therapeutic approach to breast cancer. The work will be carried out by Professor Annabi and his team of researchers at UQAM’s Molecular Oncology Laboratory, in collaboration with Theratechnologies.

Professor Annabi is thrilled with this announcement, the result of years of innovative work with his research team, which led to this funding from CQDM's SynergiQc program for the design of a cancer-targeting drug platform. "This major recognition of the significance of our work reflects doubly on UQAM," said the researcher, who noted the original contributions of his collaborators, Richard Béliveau, professor emeritus in UQAM's Chemistry Department, and researchers Michel Demeule, Alain Larocque and Jean-Christophe Currie. Not only is this funding granted jointly by the CCS and Theratechnologies, but it also spotlights the state-of-the-art biomedical research taking place in our university."

Developing a new personalized targeted therapy against triple negative breast cancer
Despite advances in several treatments, cancer remains one of the world’s leading causes of death. The heterogeneity of tumors and the mechanisms of resistance are the main obstacles reducing the effectiveness of cancer therapies. In addition, the new so-called targeted therapies are costly and of limited effectiveness and have multiple side effects.

Professor Annabi and his team will develop a new technology specifically targeting overexpressed proteins in cancer cells, which will act as a gateway for transporting these drugs into the cells. Preliminary results already indicate that this approach improves the effectiveness of current drugs and decreases their side effects. Professor Annabi's work aims to demonstrate the effectiveness of this approach in treating triple negative breast cancer, a very aggressive form of the disease. Ultimately, the research project will lead to the first clinical study in women with triple-negative breast cancer.

"This new technology," says Professor Annabi, "is of paramount importance in our fight against the development of both primary tumors and metastases. It can potentiate the action of the chemotherapy agent at the level of the cancer cells and personalize our future treatments to ensure optimal patient response, with minimal side effects and at a lower cost."

Did you know?
According to the Canadian Cancer Society:
• Triple negative breast cancer accounts for 15 to 20% of diagnosed breast tumors.

• This type of breast cancer is particularly aggressive and is associated with a high risk of recurrence, particularly in the first five years after diagnosis.

• Breast cancer remains the most common type of cancer among women in Canada.

• In 2019, 6600 women in Quebec will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 1300 women will die from the disease.

• Investments in cancer research do make a difference: 88% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are alive five years after their diagnosis.

About Borhane Annabi
A professor of Biochemistry in the UQAM Department of Chemistry, Borhane Annabi is also an associate professor in the Department of Physiology at the Université de Montreal. From 2002 to 2012, he directed the Canada Research Chair in Molecular Oncology funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. His expertise in oncology and his collaborative history with Richard Béliveau’s team have resulted, over the years, in the publication of numerous scientific articles and papers, all related to the mission of the Chair in Cancer Prevention and Treatment of which he is the holder.

About UQAM
Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, UQAM has always been recognized for its openness, dynamism and originality. Its programs and research activities are firmly rooted in social concerns, and its many innovations have helped to build its reputation and its international reach. Located in the heart of Montreal, UQAM has an enrollment of nearly 39,000 students.

About CQDM
The mission of the CQDM is to fund the development of innovative technologies that will accelerate the discovery and development of drugs. Its business model supports a collaborative approach, with major global pharmaceutical companies, Canadian biotech companies, and the governments of Quebec and Canada sharing the costs of research.

About the CCS
The CCS is a national, community-based organization whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the improvement of the quality of life of those affected by cancer. To learn more about cancer, visit their website cancer.ca or call the free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333.

About Theratechnologies
TSX: TH is a commercial biopharmaceutical company offering specialized therapies that respond to medical needs for people with orphan medical conditions, including HIV. theratech.com or sedar.com.

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Professor Borhane Annabi and Professor Emeritus Richard Béliveau are available for interviews.

Source : Rose-Aline LeBlanc, Press Relations Advisor
Press Relations and Special Events Division
Communications Service
Phone: 514 987-3000, extension 2248
leblanc.rose-aline@uqam.ca
twitter.com/RoseAlineLeBlan

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