The Neuro-CERVO Alliance Partners with Montreal-based AI Company Simmunome to Understand Neurological Disease Mechanisms and Accelerate Drug Development

MONTREAL, Canada, July 18, 2023

In the newly established initiative, the Neuro-CERVO Alliance for Drug Discovery (NCADD) is welcoming a new Montreal-based private partner, Simmunome, to untangle biological pathways and identify biomarkers involved in neurological and psychiatric disorders. Simmunome’s expertise in simulating disease states will be an invaluable asset to shed light onto potential therapeutic targets for these devastating conditions.

Finding The Right Target – An All-time Challenge

Globally, over 80 million individuals suffer from neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and major psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The absence of effective treatments places a growing strain on patients, their families, and society at large. Despite extensive research spanning several decades, there remain few treatments and no outright cures for the majority of brain illnesses. Moreover, identifying the most crucial cellular pathways and molecular targets for drug development remains a challenge.

The high cost and long experimental time associated with testing individual suspected targets in cellular or in vivo models makes it hard to screen quickly through multiple genes or pathways of interest to identify the most promising ones. The discovery process is slowed down as researchers often focus their energy and time on testing targets and molecules which end up not holding their promises down the line. As a result, few treatments are brought to be tested in the clinic, and even fewer successfully make it to the market. Patients’ clinical, pathological and genetic heterogeneity contribute to treatments failing in clinical trials. It is time for the scientific approach to change.

The Approach – Combining The Power of AI with Validation in Patient Cells

The Simmunome approach combines multi-omic data to build accurate, comprehensive in silico models to understand causal mechanisms of diseases. With a focus in neurological diseases, Simmunome brings transparency to poorly-understood diseases diagnoses and progression mechanisms.

The collaboration between NCADD and Simmunome will facilitate the drug discovery process by developing relevant in silico disease models, allowing scientists to test many putative targets and therapies computationally, quickly and at a low cost, in order to identify the most promising ones before investing time and resources to their validation. The goal of the partnership is to understand the population subgroups within given neurological and psychiatric diseases at the molecular level and make the causal link to clinical outcomes.

As part of the Neuro’s Open Science initiative, NCADD is providing Simmunome with data collected from patient samples. These data are used to feed and enrich Simmunome’s models to make them as representative of the disorders as possible and increase prediction accuracy when testing the efficacy of potential therapies. In addition, through the Early Drug Discovery Unit (EDDU) at The Neuro, NCADD is providing Simmunome with a platform to validate their findings in the lab. There, identified targets can be tested in human cellular models based on induced pluripotent stem cells derived from actual patients. Eventually, pre-clinical drug screenings in human cells based on in silico findings could be envisaged. This approach is expected to lead to the identification of causal biomarkers, mechanisms of onset and progression for neurological disorders, as well as the development of effective novel therapies, tailored to subgroups of patients.

“As research approaches evolve towards big data and multi-modal data integration, analyzing and making sense of the data becomes one of our main challenges. Through NCADD’s collaboration with Simmunome, we are taking a major step forward to address this challenge. We strongly believe that combining AI-based modelling for data analysis, and the validation of findings in patient-derived cellular models in the lab is key to unravelling critical disease mechanisms in neurological disorders, which are still very poorly understood.” says Dr. Edward Fon, Scientific Director at The Neuro and NCADD’s co-principal investigator.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be joining the NCADD alliance. As part of this ground-breaking collaboration, we will leverage our innovative platform to untangle the intricate biological mechanisms underlying these debilitating conditions. Our participation in NCADD reflects our unwavering commitment to advance scientific understanding and contribute to the development of personalized therapies that have the potential to transform the lives of millions of patients, their families, and society as a whole. We are proud to be part of this visionary effort, and we look forward to working alongside our fellow alliance members to drive meaningful progress in the field of neuroscience.” says Dr. Armstrong Murira, CEO and co-founder of Simmunome.

More About The Neuro-CERVO Alliance for Drug Discovery in Brain Disease

The NCADD initiative, uniting The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) at McGill University and the CERVO Brain Research Centre of the CIUSSS de la Capitale-Nationale, affiliated with Université Laval, was awarded $7M in funding in 2021 for three years from the Ministère de l’Économie, de l’Innovation et de l’Énergie, through its Fonds d’accélération des collaborations en santé, administered by the Québec Biopharmaceutical Research Consortium (CQDM). This funding was matched by private and philanthropic funds to bring the total amount of funding of the NCADD partnership to $15.32M.

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Frederique Larroquette

Director of Scientific Operations


More about Simmunome

Simmunome is at the leading edge of leveraging AI towards unraveling biological complexity. Simmunome’s clinical development platform allows users to input preclinical and clinical data to derive disease-specific insights and help clinical R&D researchers make critical go/no-go decisions. By combining multi-omic data to create comprehensive models of disease, Simmunome simulates biological processes to identify novel drug targets and predict and improve clinical outcomes. Using this approach, highly accurate simulations of biological processes can be attained, for more faithful representations and predictions. Ultimately, Simmunome de-risks clinical research, reduces R&D costs and dramatically accelerates health research and innovation.

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Tanya Tolomeo

Head of Business Development


More about CQDM

CQDM is a biopharmaceutical research consortium whose mission is to fund the development of innovative technologies and tools that accelerate the discovery and development of safer and more effective drugs. We bring together world-class pharmaceutical organizations, Canadian biotech companies, the best researchers from the public and private sectors, as well as the governments of Canada and Quebec. CQDM’s collaborative approach closes the gap in the funding needed to drive innovation in the academic and private sectors, particularly in early-stage research. For more information, please visit and the CQDM pages on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Carl Baillargeon

Senior Director – Communications and Marketing