Innovation to Commercialization Award

3D bioprinting personalized neural tissues for drug screening

Bioprinting can produce living human tissues on demand, opening up huge possibilities for medical breakthroughs in both drug screening and developing replacement tissues. The Willerth lab was the first group in the world to use the cutting edge RX1 bioprinter from Aspect Biosystems to bioprint neural tissues similar to those found in the brain using stem cells derived from healthy patients. Similar tissues can be printed using stem cells derived from patients suffering from Parkinson's disease, recapitulating the disease phenotype in a dish.

Primary Investigator: 
Year: 
2019

Biomarker tests to diagnose and prognose acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

There are 2.6 million Canadians with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), representing 17% of adults between 35 and 80 years of age. COPD is a disease characterized by progressive loss of lung function that leads to shortness of breath, poor quality of life, reduced productivity, emergency visits, hospitalizations and deaths. The World Health Organization estimates that COPD will be the 3rd leading cause of death worldwide by 2030, accounting for more than 7 million deaths/year and 11,000 deaths/year in Canada.

Primary Investigator: 
Year: 
2019

Technology for image-based screening to enhance protein production

New medicines being developed to treat complex diseases, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis are increasingly becoming large and complex molecules, such as proteins. These molecules must be produced using cells grown in a laboratory or production facility. A key bottleneck in the development of such new medicines is producing sufficient quantities of these molecules for various stages of rigorous testing to ensure safety and efficacy. This project will develop a technology to generate better producer cells in order to increase their productivity.

Primary Investigator: 
Year: 
2019

A smart multifunctional wound dressing for continuous monitoring and treatment of chronic injuries

Wound management is a major global challenge and poses a significant financial burden to the healthcare system due to the rapid growth of chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and aging population. The ability to detect pathogenic infections and release drug at the wound site is of the utmost importance to expedient patient care. We recently developed an advanced multifunctional dressing (GelDerm) capable of colorimetric measurement of bacterial infection and release of antibiotic agents at the wound site.

Primary Investigator: 
Year: 
2019

Novel nanomedicines for resolving inflammation as a treatment for type 2 diabetes

This project proposes a new nanomedicine approach to treat type 2 diabetes (T2D). Studies in humans and mice have shown that inflammation in fat tissues and the pancreas is a major driving force for the development of obesity-induced insulin resistance and diabetes. A major limitation of current drugs is that they distribute over the entire body, exposing all cell types, while only a small amount reaches the desired target cells at disease sites, such as macrophages in inflamed tissues. This results in limited drug efficacy and unwanted side-effects.

Primary Investigator: 
Year: 
2019

Developing a safe and effective analgesic for chronic pain relief

About 6 million Canadians report a form of chronic pain, yet half of the sufferers do not get enough pain relief from their medications. This severely affects their quality of life and has significant social and economic burdens. Opioid medications, such as morphine, are the most powerful pain killers available, but these drugs also cause serious side effects, such as suppressed breathing, leading to a high risk of death from overdose.

Primary Investigator: 
Year: 
2019

Improving cancer immunotherapy using G-CSF-blocking antibodies to overcome myeloid cell-mediated immunosuppression

Half of all Canadians will develop cancer and 1 in 4 will die of the disease. Cancer immunotherapy is a promising solution applicable to multiple types of cancer. The immune system plays a critical role in removing tumour cells. However, tumours escape the immune system to continue growing. Immunotherapy can enhance the immune system's ability to fight cancer and, in some cases, achieve long-lasting remission. However, many cancers do not respond to currently available immunotherapies.

Primary Investigator: 
Year: 
2019

Novel bioengineered probiotics increase colonization and persistence in the gut enhancing bioavailability and their therapeutic potential for inflammatory bowel disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a major global health burden and the rapid surge in pediatric cases in Canada over the past decade is raising alarm bells. Current pharmaceutical therapies are risky or ineffective, cost and health-wise, especially for long-term use and are associated with severe side effects. Therefore, new alternative therapies for IBD are needed urgently. Probiotic therapy, which is the ingestion of non-pathogenic microorganisms to provide health benefits, is considered a potential treatment option.

Primary Investigator: 
Year: 
2019

A GlycoCaged drug delivery system to improve the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is lifelong, debilitating condition that afflicts one in every 150 Canadians. Worryingly, the number of people diagnosed with IBD is rising worldwide, including among new Canadians and children. There is currently no cure for IBD, so treatment options are limited to managing symptoms with anti-inflammatory drugs.

Primary Investigator: 
Year: 
2019

Cellular resolution OCT for clinical ophthalmology

Two of the leading causes of irreversible vision loss in developed countries are age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy (DR). These diseases lead to the death of photoreceptors, the light-sensitive cells in the retina located at the back of the eye.

Treatments are currently available for “wet” AMD and DR, but there are currently no effective treatments for “dry” AMD. The key to preserving sight is early diagnosis, and monitoring the effects of the novel therapies in development.

Primary Investigator: 
Year: 
2018

An advanced wearable robotic exoskeleton for assisting people with lower limb disabilities

Human locomotion is influenced by many factors, including neuromuscular and joint disorders that affect the functionality of joints and can cause partial or complete paralysis. Reduced mobility is estimated to affect over 1.5 million people in the United States alone. Many individuals require mobility assistive technologies to keep up with their daily life, and the demand for these devices increases with age.

Primary Investigator: 
Year: 
2018
Partners: 

AAPLE-Walk: A novel gait-mimicking exercise machine for cardiovascular fitness and rehabilitation

Heart disease and diabetes are just two of many conditions that can occur in people after a spinal cord injury (SCI). Exercise can play a significant role in mitigating the risks associated with these conditions, but typical exercise options for people with SCI or other lower limb disabilities are usually limited to seated upper body exercise (for example, wheeling or hand cycling).

Primary Investigator: 
Year: 
2018

Novel infection resistant coating for indwelling urinary devices

Urinary catheters are polymer tubes inserted into the bladder to drain urine. Over 25% of patients in hospital are fitted with a catheter during their stay. These tubes are a major cause of infection in hospitalized patients and result in longer hospital stays with skyrocketing health care costs and may result in death. In fact, infections acquired in hospitals are the fourth leading cause of death in hospitalized patients. 

Primary Investigator: 
Year: 
2018

Engineered T regulatory cells to treat Crohn's disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an incurable disease that affects about 230,000 Canadians. People with IBD suffer from diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss, intestinal blockages, and other complications. Current treatments can control symptoms in many people, but they are not curative, and can have side effects like increased risk of infections. The causes of IBD are so far unknown.

Primary Investigator: 
Year: 
2018

Novel PET imaging agents for prostate cancer detection

Positron emission tomography (PET) imaging provides the most accurate and sensitive detection of cancer in patients. Yet PET is challenged by cumbersome methods that impede the clinical production of PET imaging agents and diminish their distribution and use. A critical unmet need for PET imaging is access to user-friendly methods to simplify and speed up time-sensitive radiosynthesis to deliver imaging agents to clinics.

Primary Investigator: 
Year: 
2018

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