null Reaching new heights by working together: Innovative industry partnership

RI-MUHC-led team will use artificial intelligence to improve survival rates of cancer-diagnosed patients

Montreal, January 12th, 2021 — The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) Foundation and MEDTEQ+ are proud to announce a new partnership with the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC), MIMs, and Caprion-HistoGeneX, respective leaders in cancer research, artificial intelligence, and precision medicine, to increase survival of stage IV colorectal cancer patients.

A research team, led by Dr. Peter Metrakos, Cancer Research Program Leader at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) and Professor of Surgery at McGill University, is planning to use artificial intelligence (AI) to improve survival rates of patients diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer. Stage IV colorectal cancer is incredibly deadly, with a five-year survival rate of only 12 per cent. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in Canadians and is responsible for more deaths than breast cancer or prostate cancer. In 2016, Dr. Metrakos and his international colleagues provided new insight on how colorectal cancer liver metastases sometimes co-opt existing blood vessels. Following this discovery, Dr. Metrakos turned to personalized medicine to ensure each patient receives the best treatment for their disease.

Dr. Peter Metrakos
Dr. Peter Metrakos

“The Cancer Research Program at the RI-MUHC is home to some of the top scientists in Canada, including Dr. Metrakos,” says Dr. Miguel Burnier, Interim Executive Director of the RI-MUHC. “Personalized medicine is the next step in ending cancer as a life-threatening disease.”

With liquid biopsy techniques, Drs. Metrakos and Lazaris, with their team will help separate DNA, RNA, proteins and other constituent parts of the blood, to identify the ones associated with a patient’s cancer. This critical anonymized data will be recorded for each patient. MIMs, a Montreal-based AI company will use its state-of-the-art AI program to identify patterns and insights into the data gathered from each patient’s blood sample, key to personalized treatment and improved survival. The hope is to establish a signature from this wealth of data to determine which patients will not respond to standard treatment and thus quickly guide alternative treatment plans. This signature will then be developed into a clinical test, in collaboration with Caprion-HistoGeneX.

This groundbreaking project is possible, in part, thanks to the generosity of donors. In the case of this project, Dr. Metrakos’ funding is provided by generous donors to the MUHC Foundation. Recognizing the potential of this important cancer research project, MEDTEQ+, funded by the Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation, agreed to provide matching funds for industry investment and donations. This process enables donor funds to be matched three times. With over 26,000 Canadians diagnosed with colorectal cancers each year, this project has the potential to affect millions of lives, from the patients going through cancer treatment to their families, friends, and colleagues.

“This exceptional partnership between leaders of their respective fields will allow to accelerate further the research against cancer. We’re confident that artificial intelligence will bring tremendous added-value in improving treatment to stage IV cancer patients,” declares Diane Côté, CEO of MEDTEQ+. “MEDTEQ+ has always favoured the collaborative development of innovations exploiting new enabling technologies, such as artificial intelligence in several forms, and this project is a great example of our approach.”

“This innovative new partnership demonstrates Quebec’s continued leadership in the field of artificial intelligence applied in health care. I am certain that this collaboration will ensure many promising developments in healthcare, for the benefit of patients here in Québec; as well as Canada and the world,” says Pierre Fitzgibbon, Quebec’s Minister of Economy and Innovation.

“We are grateful to our donors for their confidence in medical innovations like this one,” says Julie Quenneville, President of the MUHC Foundation. “Thanks to investment by our industry partners and MEDTEQ+, gifts to projects like this have tripled the impact, helping donor dollars go further.”

About the McGill University Health Centre Foundation

The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) Foundation raises funds to support excellence in patient care, research and teaching at the McGill University Health Centre, one of Canada’s leading university hospitals. Our Dream Big: End Cancer Campaign is raising $35 million to end cancer as a life-threatening disease. Cancer affects everyone, and researchers at the Research Institute of the MUHC (RI-MUHC) are working to catch it early, understand it down to its genetics, discover its weaknesses, and stop it from taking lives. Liquid biopsy is a key research priority of the RI-MUHC’s Cancer Research Program, as well as an important fundraising priority.

About the RI-MUHC

The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) is a world-renowned biomedical and healthcare research centre. The Institute, which is affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine of McGill University, is the research arm of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) – an academic health centre located in Montreal, Canada, that has a mandate to focus on complex care within its community. The RI-MUHC supports over 420 researchers and close to 1,200 research trainees devoted to a broad spectrum of fundamental, clinical and health outcomes research at the Glen and the Montreal General Hospital sites of the MUHC. Its research facilities offer a dynamic multidisciplinary environment that fosters collaboration and leverages discovery aimed at improving the health of individual patients across their lifespan. The RI-MUHC is supported in part by the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQS).


MEDTEQ+ is the pan-Canadian Consortium for Industrial Research and Innovation in Medical Technology. Its mission is to accelerate the development of innovative technological solutions to improve patients’ health and quality of life. MEDTEQ+ supports their validation and integration in the healthcare system and their impact, both locally and globally, by bringing together the complementary skills of industrial and academic partners, and with those of healthcare providers. MEDTEQ+ relies on the financial support of the Government of Quebec, the Government of Canada (delivered through the Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR)), the private sector and complementary partners to foster research-industry relations.

About MIMs

My Intelligent Machines (MIMs) helps life-science companies use their big data and AI to maximize food and drug production. Its MIMsOmic software analyzes data where they are stored using local computing, aggregates life-science knowledge from public databases, and knows how to use bioinformatic programs and machine learning techniques to capture key insights, trends and patterns from your data.

About Caprion-HistoGeneX

Caprion - HistoGeneX is a leading provider of specialized precision medicine services to the biopharmaceutical industry including flow and mass cytometry im-mune monitoring, quantitative mass spectrometry, molecular profiling, as well as quantitative immunohistochemistry. Leveraging its integrated platforms, Caprion-HistoGeneX supports the entire drug development cycle, from discovery to clinical trials. The company operates globally with laboratories located in Canada, USA, Belgium, UK, Australia, and China.

Media contacts

Tarah Schwartz
Director Communications & Marketing
McGill University Health Centre Foundation

Julien Caudroit
Director Communications & Events