Request for Proposals: Developing Drugs for Progressive Multiple Sclerosis

February 25, 2014 – The Centre for Drug Research and Development

The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada and the Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) today announced a partnership aimed at accelerating preclinical development of novel therapies for Multiple Sclerosis (MS). To achieve this goal, the organizations together are now seeking Letters of Intent from academic investigators for collaborative projects aimed at developing new disease-modifying therapies for progressive MS. Such therapies may be novel approaches to effectively modulating the immune system, promoting remyelination, repairing existing damage and/or protecting neurons to positively impact the progressive forms of the disease.

Background and Purpose

In the past twenty years there has been significant progress in the development of therapeutics for relapsing-remitting MS, resulting in ten Health Canada-approved disease-modifying therapies. Despite this success, patients living with progressive MS still have no effective disease-modifying therapies available to them. Progressive MS is the slow accumulation of disability that either follows the relapsing-remitting stage (secondary progressive MS) or manifests without a history of acute attacks (primary progressive MS). Without treatment options, those living with progressive MS face an inevitable decline in health that usually begins during the most productive years of their lives. In collaboration with the MS Society of Canada, CDRD is launching this Request for Proposals to seek new collaborations that will facilitate and expedite the development of new disease-modifying therapies for the treatment of progressive MS.

CDRD and the MS Society of Canada are interested in the preclinical development of novel therapeutic small molecules or antibodies that will promote remyelination, stop or delay the progression of neuronal damage, repair accumulated damage to the CNS or modify disease progression in other ways. Also of interest are diagnostic biomarkers and new disease models which have the potential to expedite the preclinical and clinical development of new therapeutics. Research suitable for funding by this Request for Proposals will have potential for clinical development yet have some critical outstanding questions that can be answered by collaborative experimental work in both the investigator’s laboratory and CDRD.

Who may apply?

Any academic investigator who is eligible under the policies of their host institution may submit a Letter of Intent. To address any questions concerning eligibility or how CDRD and the MS society may be able to help advance their discoveries, investigators are encouraged to contact Dr. Thomas Bartlett ( or Dr. Karen Lee ( before submitting their Letter of Intent.

Intellectual Property Status

It is not necessary to have filed a patent application when submitting a Letter of Intent. However, the technology must be unencumbered, i.e., rights in the subject technology cannot have been granted or optioned to a third party by the applicant or their host institution.

Application and Review Process

February 24th, 2014: Letter of Intent submission opens.

March 24th, 2014, 17:00 Pacific Standard Time: Letter of Intent submission closes.

April 1st, 2014: Notification of selection for Confidential Proposal stage (Applicants required to enter into confidentiality agreement with CDRD).

April 15th, 2014, 17:00 Pacific Standard Time: Deadline for submission of Confidential Proposal.

May 6th 2014: Notification of selection of successful Confidential Proposals.

May 7th- 31st 2014: Co-development of project plan between investigators and CDRD.

June 2014: Anticipated project start date.

• The Letter of Intent is a proposal title and three-hundred word NON-CONFIDENTIAL summary (click here to download template). Please note that ALL LETTERS OF INTENT WILL BE TREATED AS NON-CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION.

• Letters of Intent must be submitted electronically to by Monday, March 24th at 17:00 Pacific Standard Time. Early submission of Letters of Intent is encouraged.

• Applicants who have submitted a successful Letter of Intent will be contacted by CDRD on March 28th and will be asked to enter into a confidentiality agreement with CDRD to enable submission of a Confidential Proposal (template will be available on March 1st, 2014)

The review processes will be managed by CDRD and guided by the input of additional experts nominated by the MS Society. The Letters of Intent deemed by CDRD and the MS Society in their discretion as having the highest therapeutic potential will be selected for further evaluation involving a Confidential Proposal. For technologies selected by CDRD after this evaluation, the investigator(s), in collaboration with CDRD, will develop a proposed project plan and budget to undertake the critical experiments needed to advance the technology.


The partnership between CDRD and the MS Society represents an opportunity for researchers at the cutting edge of MS research to move their technologies through preclinical development and facilitate translation to patients. CDRD has established multiple Innovation Funds with leading global pharmaceutical companies to support development of projects. For more information on these Funds, please visit The structure of these partnerships provides financial resources for selected projects and also gives CDRD and principal investigators access to world-class disease and industry expertise to help develop project plans that are optimally directed towards commercialization.

For additional questions or assistance, please contact:

Thomas Bartlett, Ph.D.
Project Search and Evaluation Team,
+1 (604)-827-1130
The Centre for Drug Research and Development,
2405 Wesbrook Mall, Fourth Floor,
Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z3

About the MS Society of Canada

Canada has the highest rate of multiple sclerosis in the world. MS is a chronic, often disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord. It is the most common neurological disease of young adults in Canada. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 40, and the unpredictable effects of MS last for the rest of their lives. The MS Society provides services to people with MS and their families and funds research to find the cause and cure for this disease. Please visit or call 1-800-268-7582 for more information.

About CDRD

CDRD provides drug development expertise and infrastructure to enable researchers from leading health research institutions to advance innovative therapeutic strategies in a collaborative manner.
CDRD has the capability to work with investigators to develop lead compounds including small molecules and therapeutic antibodies. CDRD’s facilities and expertise are designed to complement what any single university or research institute can offer. Principal investigators gain access to a fully-integrated preclinical drug development platform. This platform supports each stage of the preclinical drug development process from target validation, high-throughput drug screening, medicinal chemistry and drug delivery to non-GLP pharmacology/toxicology. Our biologics division specializes in therapeutic antibodies, the fastest growing class of new medicines.

CDRD is seeking new collaborations that will lead to the successful development of new medicines for progressive MS. It is anticipated that activities outlined in a collaborative project plan will encompass activities leveraging the infrastructure and expertise available at CDRD in addition to the expertise (e.g. unique models and assays) existing in the investigator’s and potentially other collaborators’ laboratories.
Unlike traditional grant-in-aid or sponsored research grants which are typically developed by the investigator in isolation,

CDRD will work with successful applicants to develop a full project plan addressing the next critical activities that are required to progress the technology towards the clinic. This type of collaborative effort has been designed to enable academic investigators to advance development of their technologies much further than typical grant funding strategies would allow. Through such collaborations, CDRD strives to meet its mandate of de-risking discoveries stemming from publicly-funded health research, and transforming them into viable investment opportunities for the private sector — thus successfully bridging the commercialization gap between academia and industry, and translating research discoveries into new therapies for patients with progressive MS.


This Request for Proposals and your submission of a Letter of Intent does not commit CDRD or the MS Society to select any Proposal or Applicant, to enter into any agreements with any Applicant or to conduct any project with any Applicant. CDRD and the MS Society reserve the right to reject any or all Proposals at any time, and to terminate this Request for Proposals at any time.

In providing CDRD personal information in the course of your application, you consent to the collection and use by CDRD, CDRD Ventures Inc., and the MS Society of such information for the purposes of evaluating, awarding, and managing relevant projects. We will use and protect personal information in accordance with applicable privacy law.