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Winter 2008

Winter 2008

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Published by: Justin on Dec 11, 2008
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Winter 2008
volume 2
issue 1
w w w. g h b n . o r g
Golden HorseshoeBiosciences Network
New clinical trial program set to go
A unique clinical trials program or medical devices is underway in Hamilton – a project that mayresult in a permanent base in the city.The pilot program, involving a handul o companies with assistive devices ready to test, will relyon medical and related expertise within McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences.I the pilot ies as well as its backers hope, the plan is that it will lead to a ull program, withgovernment and other unding.The idea is that a ully unded program would come to be known as the home o clinicaltesting or Class 1 technologies – many o whose backers now go to the U.S. or oshoreto get their external devices vetted or market. The backers also hope to lure Class 1manuacturers, such as makers o prostheses, wireless devices and hearing-loss systems,to locate in Hamilton area.At present, entrepreneurial companies that have medical and assistive device technologieshave no real established program in Ontario to access or clinical oversight.“We recognize small and medium enterprises have difculties getting clinical testing oproducts that have reached the commercialization (stage),” said Mickey Milner, o theHealth Technology Exchange. HTX is a provincially unded centre that aids both researchand to-market aspects o medical and assistive devices.“There isn’t any ormal program or them. Basically, people are on their own to make theseconnections and linkages,” said Milner, president and CEO o Markham-based HTX, which isproviding the lion’s share o the $200,000 budget.The pilot project involves our major partners: HTX, the Golden Horseshoe BiosciencesNetwork (also a under), McMaster University, and Hamilton Health Sciences. It wouldutilize the medical and related expertise, acilities, ethical review boards and other existinginrastructure in Hamilton.The city is internationally known as a prime venue or conducting clinical trials. For example,the Population Health Research Institute, at the university and HHS, has or years donetrials and provided expertise in cardiovascular, diabetes, epidemiological and other areas.A permanent trials base or medical devices would be a urther example o employingsuch expertise.“There is an opportunity here that hasn’t really been tapped yet,” said Darlene Homonko,executive director o the Golden Horseshoe network. “We want to attract companies to comehere . . . It’s all the various supports we can oer that helps build the opportunities.Medical device makers approved or the clinical trials pilot will beneft rom having their productstested on users, will have access to specialist clinician and other help, and may be able to takeadvantage o other assistance, such as business advice or contacts, or be connected to relatedtechnology companies.The successul Ontario applicants must provide at least hal the operational costs or their particularpilot trial.
On Brainsand Bugs
I microbialresearch, outbreakso epidemics, andbrain research areyour interests ordisciplines, then planto attend the secondannual Health Researchin the City conerence on
Wednesday, February 6
.The one-day event –titled
Brains and BugsConerence
– at HamiltonConvention Centreeatures keynote panelpresentations, network discussions, and posterawards.The day willhighlight researchprograms and promoteinteraction on clinical,knowledge transer, healthservices and other levels.Go to
andclick on Events or moreinormation or to register.
Inside –
Biofuels specialreport
[pages 2, 3]
Tiny sentinalsof safety 
[page 4]
[page 6]
Morris (Mickey)Milner
President and CEO,
The Health Technology
Exchange (HTX)
w w w. g h b n . o r g
In a fth-oor lab at McMaster University, biophysicistDuane Chung studies one o the world’s most simple yetabundant aquatic plants in search o tomorrow’s uels.I he and ellow researchers at theUniversity o Waterloo succeed, theywill help turn algae lipids into arenewable uel. Through geneticengineering and better photobioreactor reactor design todrive algae growth, they hopeto harvest alternative energyrom the chlorophyll-bearingorganism.“To be realistic, I would say it’s goingto take a while beore we’re beginning to make thishappen,” says Chung, the head o Centurion Biouels.It’s a air statement, easily applied to much o theresearch going on around the world as scientist-entrepreneurs seek ‘green’ solutions to the problems orising oil and gas prices, the need or a secure energysupply, and toxic greenhouse gases (GHGs).Burlington resident Norm Rathie and his company,Met-Tech Inc. are working with a U.S.-based partneron “a 100 per cent chemical approach” that can usegrass clippings or corn stover (the stalks let behind aterharvest) or other biomass while husbanding its carboncontent.They hope to produce ethyl levulinate, which can bean additive to diesel uel; levulinic acid, a precursoror many chemical manuacturing processes; urural,an industrial chemical; and ormic acid, among otherproducts.With biomass, says Rathie, it’s all about “yield, yield,yield”, as researchers seek green uels that can competecost-eectively with petro-uels.There are great expectations rom biouels.But there are great obstacles too. And thehigh cost o eedstock – and theresearch and development costs that go into convertingit – is only one o the barriers as proponents strive tocreate an economically viable industry.“It’s still a tough area and clearly, part o the issueyou’ve got is there are other alternatives outthere that are more cost-eective,” says JohnNeate, o the non-proft OCETA (OntarioCentre or Environmental TechnologyAdvancement). Too many people look or“the silver bullet,” he says.OCETA ran a one-day biouels workshop atMcMaster in late October. (Go to: http://www.oceta.on.ca/workshops/hamilton/biouels.htm)The seminar zeroed in on some barriers. They included:
The need to integrate a renewable-uels structurewithin existing petro-uel production and supplysystems as much as possible
A system or environmental gains to be ‘monetized’,such as through tradeable GHG emissions-reductioncredits
The necessity or diversifed product revenuestreams to help oset the ‘sunk costs’ o harvesting,preparation, and transport o bio-eedstocks.The young biouel industry is years rom being a viablesector. And ironically, just like petro-uel acilities, greenuel production has lately taken ak or environmentaland economic allout, whether it’s about smell or landspoilage.The ood-corn-to-ethanol strategy has reaped a bumpercrop o criticism. Critics have slammed subsidies and useo nitrogen ertilizers. The Organization or Economic Co-operation and Development suggests the global biouelrush pushes up ood prices.The debate has been so intense that the CanadianRenewable Fuels Association complainedin November to the United Nationsabout a harsh UN special report.
Grabbing newhonours
The CPR Glove hasgrabbed more honoursas one o the year’s mostinventive discoveries inscience and technology.The custom-made glove,designed to assistin cardio-pulmonaryresuscitation eorts,won in the undergraduatecategory at the CollegiateInventors’ Competition inCaliornia.Three McMasterUniversity inventors– Corey Centen, NileshPatel and Sarah Smith– received a $15,000prize in the competition,an annual program o theNational Inventors Hallo Fame Foundation inthe U.S.The glove, outttedwith sensors and anLCD screen, wasalso recognized byTIME magazine inits Inventions othe Year specialedition.
In search of tomorrow: the path to
Nilesh Patel, left,and Corey Centenwith the CPR glove
w w w. g h b n . o r g
Association president Gordon Quaiattini wrote thatbiouels provide “one o the most sensible and attractivesolutions to date, particularly considering (their)contribution to the reduction o CO2 emissions.”In the U.S., says Jay Mullin o OCETA, the industry hasrun into “stranded ethanol” problems as supply outrunsinrastructure. Ethanol, notes Met-Tech’s Norm Rathie,is almost a way-station, an intermediate step to moreefcient bioenergy. Biobutanol, points out OCETA’s MonaEl Hallak, is more similar to gasoline than is ethanol, witha higher energy density.Yet the successes are undeniable. Gasoline and dieselprices that hover at $1 or more a litre help uel the pushto cleaner-burning biouel. So, researchers are lookingat microbes, biomass conversion, syngas rom garbage,biodiesel made rom used restaurant grease, and othereedstock options.Oakville-based Biox Corp., with its initial production plantin Hamilton, processes raw materials, including animalats, recycled cooking oils, and palm oil. The companyhopes to go public with an upcoming IPO oering.Energy giants, such as Suncor, are helping to evolve thechemical valley o Sarnia-Lambton into a bio-industrialcorridor. The new Guelph pyrolysis plant o B.C.-basedDynamotive Energy Systems is turning wood waste intoBioOil.OCETA is among the groups helping to bring investors,distribution-system players, end-users, and biouelproducers together. It’s “a tough go” or small- tomedium-sized enterprises to secure needed capital, saysNeate. But i they have abetter idea, it makes senseto join a similar-interestsconsortium.Governments are using both push and prod to move thecountry toward renewable uels. Ottawa, or example,has set up a $500 million NextGen Biouels Fundto jumpstart production o large-scale, frst-o-kinddemo-scale plants. The 2007 ederal budget included arenewable-uels producer payment oering $1.5 billionover seven years to domestic ethanol and biodieselproducers.In Ontario, the government is providing more than $500million over 12 years to aid increased ethanol production.In Alberta, a new ederal-provincial initiative will helpdevelop micro-algae systems that would capture CO2rom industrial sources.Ottawa is also mandating that gasoline consist o 5 percent renewable content by 2010. Diesel uel and heatingoil must be 2 per cent green by 2012.Biomass is the great green hope in Canada. SustainableDevelopment Technology Canada (SDTC) believesthere is enough grass and orest eedstock to satisyabout 6 per cent o the country’s energy needs throughproduction o non-digestible cellolosic ethanol.One biouels industry estimate puts the energy valueat 2.2 exajoules a year – or 17 per cent o Canada’stotal energy – within the next decade or so i there isincreased use o waste biomass and crop dedicationto biouels. (That 2.2 exajoules works out to an energyequivalent o about 62 billion litres o gasoline.)“We have a decent critical mass o young Canadiancompanies that have done some really good work in thisarea,” Vicky Sharpe, president and chie executive ofcero SDTC, administrator o the NextGen und, said last all.“I don’t think people have grasped what the bioenergyindustry could look like.”
Biofuels: ‘some really good work’ on choices 
New OCETAhead
Kevin Jones, ormerlychie operating ocero OCETA, has beennamed president andchie executive ocero the non-prot centre.He replaces Ed Mallett,who has held the postsince OCETA’s inception in1994. Mallett retains tieswith the centre as seniorassociate ocused on newbusiness development.Jones joined OCETA in1997 as vice-presidentmarketing and businessdevelopment and has beeninstrumental in extendingits reach into suchareas as industrial eco-eciency and browneldremediation.OCETA, the OntarioCentre or EnvironmentalTechnology Advancement,is a non-prot agencyproviding value-addedbusiness services in aido commercializationand applicationo innovativeenvironmentaland energytechnologies.

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