Dr Guy Sauvageau, chercheur principal à l’IRIC

Dr. Guy Sauvageau, principal investigator at IRIC

Heading a team that made a major discovery in the treatment of blood cancer, “IRIC’S Dr. Guy Sauvageau is named La Presse’s 2014 Personality of the Year in the Science category“. A principal investigator with the Université de Montréal’s Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC), Dr. Sauvageau directs the Molecular Genetics of Stem Cells research unit there in addition to occupying the positions of Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the Université de Montréal and hematologist at the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital.

A molecule with unheard-of potential

Dr. Sauvageau’s team has made an unprecedented breakthrough with the discovery of a new molecule capable of multiplying the stem cells present in umbilical cord blood. The use of this molecule – named UM-171 in honor of the Université de Montréal – will make it possible to significantly increase the availability of compatible stem cells for treating patients with illnesses like leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. Human clinical trials are currently in their early stages, and the probability of success is excellent.

“Dr. Sauvageau’s research gives cause for hope to thousands of patients and their families,” commented Guy Breton, Rector of the Université de Montréal. “This research is carried out in collaboration with numerous partners and thanks to the coming together of several disciplines, which is the source of the great strength of IRIC and the Université de Montréal. We’re immensely proud of Dr. Sauvageau, who is an outstanding ambassador for our university.”

A collaborative effort

Such discoveries are never the work of one person but the result of the efforts of a number of teams involved in the research. IRIC’s medicinal chemistry team, led by Dr. Anne Marinier, and that of the screening platform, led by Jean Duchaîne, played an important role in this discovery, as did postdoctoral student Iman Farès and research officer Jalila Chagraoui, who collaborated on writing the original study, which appeared in the prestigious journal Science. Invaluable collaborators in the project, Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital and Héma-Québec, along with IRIC’s research commercialization unit, also contributed to the achievement of this promising result.

“As IRIC’s founding director, Guy Sauvageau has done great work and contributed to establishing the highest standards of excellence that define our research center,” emphasized Michel Bouvier, chief executive officer of IRIC. “More than that, his contribution transcends the strictly scientific dimension: Guy is a true leader, who inspires everyone in his orbit.”

About the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer

An ultra-modern research hub and training centre located in the heart of the Université de Montreal, the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) was created in 2003 to shed light on the mechanisms of cancer and discover new, more effective therapies to counter this disease. IRIC operates according to a model that is unique in Canada. Its innovative approach to research has already led to discoveries that will, over the coming years, have a significant impact on the fight against cancer. For further information: www.iric.ca


Manon Pepin
Director, Communications and Media Relations
Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer | IRIC
Université de Montréal
(514) 343-7283 | manon.pepin@umontreal.ca