Annual Report


It is with great pride that the Centre de recherche du CHUS (CRCHUS) presents its 2020–2021 Annual Report. In this edition, you will find our researchers’ most significant discoveries and major achievements from the Centre’s 40th anniversary year.

Please enjoy!

Major Achievements

The CRCHUS, Offering HOPE for 40 Years!

The year 2020 marked the CRCHUS’s 40th anniversary. For the occasion, the Centre showcased its researchers, their partnerships and the health-related discoveries that have emerged over the past four decades. A museum exhibit was curated to explain in a simple and insightful way how the CRCHUS relies on collaboration and innovation to better understand and resolve health and social services issues. A series of capsules, featuring spokesperson Jean-Luc Mongrain, were also produced to highlight the importance of research in people’s lives. The capsules were broadcast on the RDI channel. Watch the capsules.

A source of hope for patients, researchers’ knowledge has contributed to the evolution of health-related research across Québec and around the world since 1980.

Outstanding Discoveries

A Revolutionary Vaccine to Fight an Aggressive Form of Breast Cancer


Lee-Hwa Tai’s team is conducting a study that aims to design a therapeutic vaccine to treat triple-negative breast cancer, one of the most difficult cancers to treat due to its rapid progression. In addition, the majority of patients do not respond to chemotherapy or surgery. Her technique consists in using breast cancer cells harvested from a woman at the time of her surgery, and infecting them with an oncolytic virus, a type of virus that destroys cancer cells and will be detected by the patient’s immune system. The cancer cells are then injected back into the woman, which stimulates her immune system.


Using Adipose Tissue to Fight Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity


Denis Blondin and Dr. André Carpentier, in collaboration with Dr. Camilla Schéele from the University of Copenhagen, have developed an unprecedented method to activate the tissue responsible for burning excess sugar and fat in the human body. They have shed light on the cell receptor responsible for this activation. Their study demonstrates that when activated by exposure to cold, brown adipose tissue burns fat. This scientific breakthrough could eventually improve the treatment of type 2 diabetes and obesity as well as prevent related complications by stimulating brown fat with the help of a drug.

Breaking the Blood-Brain Barrier in the Treatment of Neurological Diseases


Fernand Gobeil is studying the role of B1 and B2 receptors—molecular structures that react to neurotransmitters—in connection with the blood-brain barrier. This barrier represents the main obstacle to brain drug delivery. In collaboration with Dr. David Fortin and Martin Lepage, the researcher demonstrated innovativeness by combining both classic and innovative magnetic resonance imaging technologies. The latter involving a contrast agent targeting the B2R receptor. The team managed to determine when and where these receptors are present, enabling specialists to target them for brain drug delivery.

Towards Pain Relief Without Side Effects

Although they are effective in pain reduction, opioid treatments cause various side effects, such as addiction. Louis Gendron is focusing on the Delta receptor, a therapeutic target that causes fewer side effects and induces analgesic effects to alleviate inflammatory, neuropathic, cancer and migraine-related pain. He has identified several proteins that interact with the Delta receptor in the brain. The identification of these proteins represents a crucial step in the development of analgesics to treat chronic pain with little or no side effects.

GESTE: A Cohort Generating Interesting Leads

Analyses of the data collected by the GESTE birth cohort, created by Larissa Takser, have made it possible to establish a link between prenatal acetaminophen exposure and a child’s brain development. The researcher has identified an association between the presence of acetaminophen, measured in the first feces of the newborn, and an indirect effect on increased hyperactivity in the child. This finding underlines the relevance of conducting more specific analyses, in order to conclude whether the drug should be contraindicated during pregnancy.

Loss of Taste and Smell Associated with COVID-19

Dr. Alex Carignan, Dr. Jacques Pépin and Dr. Louis Valiquette were the first to study anosmia and dysgeusia associated with the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The objective: To confirm whether these symptoms were characteristics associated with people who tested positive for the virus. The researchers observed that nearly 70% of people with the disease presented with partial or complete loss of taste and smell. Their findings were published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. In the article, the team specified that these symptoms should be used as an indication to test for COVID-19, and that this test should be repeated in people presenting with these clinical manifestations and for whom the first test was negative.

Annual Reports

Consult also the Fondation du CHUS’ annual report.