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Fall 2009

Fall 2009

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w w w. g h b n . o r g
Golden HorseshoeBiosciences Network
We’re growinginto the future
Golden HorseshoeBiosciences Network andits partners in Hamilton,Halton, and Niagara hope to be expanding their roleand services as we headinto 2010.While GHBN will remain,it will be allied with aninnovation centre, a virtualfactory that is client-management centred.It would focus on small andentrepreneurial businesses,helping to move theirinnovative products andservices closer to market.The centre will play aleadership role in human-capital development, trainingand mentoring innovatorsand leaders of theknowledge-based economy.This is all part of anOntario innovation andcommercialization agenda as the government seeks gainsin industries, jobs, and socialand economic prosperity for the province’s leading-edge technology and services. Wehope to have word soon onhow we’ll move boldly into the future.
Inside –
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 An Achilles heel
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 Worrisomesigns inbiotech
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Fall 2009
 
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 volume 3
 
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issue 3
Farncombe head ‘positive’ about research spinos
The new head o McMasterUniversity’s digestive health centre– an entrepreneur noted or takingresearch to market – is “verypositive” about similar spinosor Hamilton.John Wallace says the Farncombe Family DigestiveHealth Research Institute has great potential, both orcommercial success and or partnerships with liesciences companies.“We are already moving orward on a numbero initiatives,” said Dr. Wallace, recent winner oa Premier’s Summit Award, given to exceptionalmedical researchers. “I hope that there will be anannouncement in the all o a partnership that willinvolve development o some compounds based onresearch in our institute.Upon his appointment in March, he told The Globeand Mail: “I’m very keen on the notion that researchdoesn’t stop when we publish a paper. What wereally need to do is ocus on taking what we nd, andboth inorming the public and translating that intomeaningul changes in how health care is delivered.”Summit Award winners receive up to $5 million over ave-year period, based on a $2.5 million contributionrom the provincial program, matched by an equalamount rom their sponsoring institution. The instituteitsel was launched with a $15-million donation rom theFarncombe amily in Oakville.Dr. Wallace, who has been called “a superstar” in theeld o gastrointestinal research, has been involved in atleast three start-up bioscience rms, most recently GInovaPharma, a Montreal-based company that is developingnovel therapies or digestive disorders.McMaster’s centre is one o the pre-eminent digestivehealth research institutes in the world. The acility includesthe only gnotobiotic (germ-ree) animal acility in a Canadianuniversity and a Roche 454 high-throughput DNA sequencer,used to genetically identiy bacteria in the GI tract.Global research has intensied into the role o the human GItract, and into the bacteria that colonize the tract. Scientistsare increasingly making connections between the state othe intestinal system and a wide range o disorders, includingdepression, obesity, and diabetes, as well as illnesses directlytied to the gut, such as Crohn’s disease and irritable bowelsyndrome.Among other research studies, Farncombe is involved in anAFM (Advanced Foods and Materials Network, a national bodyheadquartered at University o Guelph) study looking at theimpact o diet and the intestinal microbiome on gut health andgeneral well-being. That work may lead to outside partnersdeveloping new commercial products, said Dr. Wallace,inaugural director o the institute.A proessor in the Department o Medicine at McMaster, hisarea o special interest is mediators o infammation andtheir contribution to mucosal injury and dysunction. Mucho the infammation and ulceration research is ocused onthe gastrointestinal tract, although his study areas also takein cardiovascular infammation and platelet unction. He haspublished more than 350 peer-reviewed papers and is amongthe top 0.5 per cent o biomedical scientists in the world interms o citations.
Among Farncombe’s research themes are infammation,inection and mucosal immunology, molecular microbiology,gut-brain interactions (leading to emotional stress anddepression, or example), and hepatic blood fow andvascular adhesion molecule expression in sepsis andmulti-organ ailure.
Researchers estimate that irritable bowel syndrome aects upto 20 per cent o Canadians. In some countries, the gure isas high as 30 per cent o the population. In Canada and mostWestern nations, IBS occurs signicantly more oten in womenthan in men. IBS can have a signicant eect on quality olie and has been identied as the second-leading cause oabsenteeism rom work or school.
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Cleanfeld turbines – a small wonder in the wind
Mac leads eye-research team
A McMaster University-based network will leadinter-university researchon biomaterials, medicaldevices and drug-deliverydevices that are designedto seek treatment answersto vision problems.Researchers at McMaster,the University o Waterloo,University o Toronto,and Queen’s University inKingston will collaborate onthe project. Private-sectorinvolvement includes 10industry partners who willwork to take new productsto market.The collaboration is called:20/20 - the NationalScience and EducationOphthalmic MaterialsNetwork. Eye-relateddiseases, such asglaucoma and maculardegeneration, are agrowing health concernas much o Canada’spopulation ages.
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As wind turbines go, they’re a somewhat odd shape,they’re relatively small and they are almost unobtrusive.Which is why a lot o attention is blowing their way.The V3.5 vertical-axis turbines made by CleaneldEnergy can sit on top o a roo or a ground mount, catchwind rom any direction, and operate with a minimumo audible noise. Favourable reviews – the company waschosen a ‘Mind to Market’
nalist last year in an OntarioCentres o Excellence competition – have led to sales inCanada, the U.S., Europe, and even China.
“We’ve done about 50 sales and installations,” sayspresident and CEO Tony Verrelli. “But our pipeline issubstantial so we have a backlog which is increasingin revenues.” With recent regulatory approval o itsV3.5 turbine inverter by UL (Underwriters Laboratory),the company expects the U.S. soon to be “our primarymarket”, he said. In the U.S., investment tax creditsloom large or buyers o small turbines as the Obamagovernment pushes green energy initiatives andgreater energy sel-reliance.Located in an Ancaster industrial park, Cleaneld hasavoided the NIMBY syndrome with its discreet systems– although talk at the provincial level o setbackrequirements rom residential areas, a limit normallyimposed on large-tower turbines, is unnerving. Theunits are small enough that installations can start at$45,000 or so, including turbine, mounting, inverterand any required drawings.In the Hamilton area, Cleaneld turbines can be oundon the roo at Mohawk College’s campus in StoneyCreek and at the technology park at Highways 5 and6. Cleaneld is also looking to larger turbine products,to exploitation o a 250 kW universal inverter (makingelectricity grid-riendly by converting it rom direct toalternating current), and to development o nanowiresolar technology.But or now, the 3.5 kW units remain the bread and butterocus. The OCE believes that, “under avourable conditions”,a Cleaneld unit can provide 9,000 kW over a year. I anaverage Ontario home consumes about 10,000 kW a year,that means Cleaneld’s turbines might provide more than80 per cent o that home’s needs.While the company – the operating arm o a publicly tradedenterprise on the TSX Venture Exchange based in Vancouver– has its own in-house and also contract engineeringexpertise, Cleaneld has partnered with public-sectorresearchers at universities, the National Research Council,and Ontario Centres o Excellence as it moves throughdesign stages and wind tunnel testing. McMaster Universityhas been a longtime research and development partner.
“This is a great place to be because we’ve got a great universitypartner there,” says Verrelli, part o a management teamthat holds a stake o just over 25 per cent in the company.“McMaster has some outstanding proessors and students.”
It is with OCE’s photonics centre and McMaster’sengineering physics people that Cleaneld is working on thecommercialization o semiconductor nanowire photovoltaicstechnology in solar cells. Verrelli believes the company maybe at least ve years away rom a commercial solar product.But the idea is to reduce the cost o solar power by usingsemiconductor nanowires to bump up the eciency ophotovoltaic technology. That would bring such systemscloser in cost line to ossil uels.Nanowires are ultra-thin structures with controlledlengths o one to ve microns and diameters o 10 to100 nanometres (a thousand times thinner than a humanhair). A McMaster 2008 news release noted that, amongadvantages over thin lm and crystal silicon, nanowiresrequired lower-cost substrates and had strong light-trappingand absorption qualities.The company has received investment capital, including romOCE, rom private equity raisings, and late last year rom aprivate placement o about $1 million by a Chinese investor-company.
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V3.5 Installation at McMaster Innovation Parkin Hamilton.
 
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RoboDoctor will see you now
Hamilton doctors and scientists are entering a bold new era inhealthcare with a plan to oer personalized medicine where one o the caregivers is not a person.They hope to provide not only world-class service but also to create a new industry and jobs as well. The keybehind the initiative is the newly created Centre or Surgical Invention and Innovation (CSII).The centre plans to design and develop medical robots or sale to clinics, hospitals, and other centres, both at homeand abroad. The program would take advantage o the expertise o personnel at McMaster University and HamiltonHealth Sciences, and o scientists with MDA Corporation, the company behind the telescoping Canadarm space-shuttle robotic arm.“Canada is at the leading edge in space robotics with Canadarm and so on,” says Dr. Mehran Anvari, one o theworld’s most prominent pioneers in robotic surgery and current president o the international Minimally InvasiveRobotic Association. “We’re now trying to translate that edge into the medical eld.”It’s very early days or the $30 million undertaking. But Dr. Anvari, CSII scientic director, believes the project coulddesign and build lightweight systems that would incorporate high-resolution imaging guidance, such as magneticresonance (MRI) or computed tomography (CT).Doctors would operate in “augmented reality”, seeing “around the corner”, says Dr. Anvari. They would use super-haptic sensing, with pressure-touch capability ner than that o a human hand. Surgeons would get the benets omotion scaling down to the level o a micron – one-millionth o a metre or so.Robotic systems in hospitals are not new and have been used in cardiothoracic surgery, cancer therapies, evenorgan transplants. They assist doctors in minimally invasive surgeries, involving small keyhole entries into the body –an area where Hamilton doctors have developed great expertise. Anvari and others hope their systems might takeon other roles, such as assisting in tough procedures, such as pedicle screw drilling (in spinal usions) or biopsies.Minimally invasive surgery leads to shorter hospital stays. It also leaves smaller scars and results in ewer inectioncomplications and it promotes aster recovery times and reduced emotional impact on patients.The global market or surgical robots is big. Some estimates put it at more than $10 billion by 2014. But it is a busymarket, with many players in the eld or a product that only large clinics and hospitals can aord.
– continued on page 6
Doctors sit at acontrol console,directing a surgical robot during anoperation.
McMasterheads hugeheart study
McMaster Universityis part o a teamo internationalresearchers that hascome up with a newmedication to reducestrokes and bleedingcomplications in patientswith the heart rhythmdisorder, atrial fbrillation,at risk or stroke.Wararin has been thegold standard up to now.But the huge study showsthat oral blood thinner,dabigatran, is saer andmore eective than theexisting therapy.Proessor o medicineStuart Connolly, in theMichael G. DeGrooteSchool o Medicineand also thePopulation HealthResearch Institute,was co-principalinvestigator o theRE-LY (RandomizedEvaluation o Long-term anticoagulanttherapY) study,which involved18,000 patients in44 countries.
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Dr. Mehran Anvari

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