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Tag: Pharmaceutical Manufacturing

Biotech innovators see ‘growing opportunity’ in Alberta’s drug and vaccine industry

Alberta’s world-class talent and expertise, as well as its biotechnology infrastructure, will help the sector thrive through COVID-19 and beyond, a panel said this week.

Representatives of Entos Pharmaceuticals, Providence Therapeutics, and Applied Pharmaceutical Innovation (API)discussed the province’s strengths in biotechnology and pharmaceuticals during an online conversation hosted by Lynette Tremblay, vice-president of strategy for Edmonton Global, on March 22.

The industry is at a turning point, said API CEO Andrew MacIsaac.

“We do have phenomenal anchor companies within the region, and a lot of companies are showing a whole bunch of promise, such as Entos and Providence,” he said. “The next three to five years, what I think we will start to see is the development of a very mature and robust industry around drug development and life sciences much more broadly.”

Entos Pharmaceuticals has developed a DNA-based COVID-19 vaccine, which is currently awaiting approval from Health Canada to begin clinical trials.

“Companies like Entos and Providence have a very bright future with safe and effective vaccines,” said Dr. John Lewis, CEO of Entos. “The estimated worldwide market for COVID-19 vaccines is 73 billion by 2027, and if we build this industry in Alberta, we are looking at, from COVID alone, a huge market opportunity.”

The same infrastructure used for COVID-19 can be used to help with other programs, said Providence Therapeutics president Jared Davis, whose company recently started clinical trials for its Alberta-made COVID-19 vaccine.

“The infrastructure we are building, both manufacturing-wise as well as development programs, is going to allow us to go to other infectious disease, to go to gene medicine, gene therapies, to look at gene editing,” he said. “It’s all the same types of technology — DNA or mRna technologies that are used for those.”


Alberta and Canada have the opportunity to be at the forefront of this industry, said Lewis, whose company is also conducting multiple clinical trials that promise treatment options for cancer patients.

“The pandemic has really brought out this new platform technology, the genetic medicines, for instance, that Providence and Entos are working on that can rapidly respond to new virus threats, but also really usher a new area of genetic medicines for gene therapies,” said Lewis.

Last week, the provincial government announced that it is seeking proposals to develop and manufacture COVID-19 vaccines in Alberta.

During the virtual discussion, panelists highlighted other key strengths of Alberta, like being a cost-effective province and a place where employees would stay with the company as it continues to grow.

MacIsaac also talked about the significance of creating industry partnerships, noting that API is working with companies like Entos and Providence to help them bring drugs beyond the clinical trial stage and into the market.

Locally developed drug secures FDA approval

Aurinia becomes one of only nine Canadian companies to secure this approval

Earlier this month, Aurinia Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced that their drug, LUPKYNIS, has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat patients with active lupus nephritis. Aurinia is one of only nine Canadian companies that have successfully taken a novel drug to market through the FDA.

It’s an exciting announcement with an interesting story that originates in the Edmonton region and is a great example of what’s possible for the pharmaceutical sector here. 

Dr. Robert Fraser first discovered the drug voclosporin in 1993. Today it is valued at $3 billion CAD

LUPKYNIS was originally called voclosporin, a drug that Dr. Robert Foster first discovered 28 years ago, after leaving his position at the University of Alberta to found Isotechnika Pharma Inc.. Dr. Foster believed voclosporin could be an improvement to the drug Cylosporin, the standard of care drug for organ transplantation that had some problems from a safety perspective. Through the course of his work, he discovered that voclosporin also had the capacity to treat autoimmune diseases like arthritis, psoriasis and lupus. 

That’s when Aurinia Pharmaceuticals stepped in and purchased the licencing for the indication of voclosporin for lupus. They rebranded the drug as LUPKYNIS.

During the financial crisis in 2008, Aurinia found themselves struggling to secure financing, so Dr. Foster bought the molecule back in company stock in 2013, merging Aurinia with Isotechnika. He served as the company’s CEO and, later, its Chief Scientific Officer. 

Today, that voclosporin molecule is worth nearly $3 billion CAD and the development of the drug has created hundreds of jobs both here in the Edmonton region and in Victoria where Aurinia is headquartered. This recent announcement will certainly expand the drug’s economic impact. 

But beyond its economic impact, Dr Foster points to the fact that this drug will ultimately save lives. 

“Developing the drug and getting it FDA approved was truly a village effort,” said Dr. Foster.

LUPKYNIS, has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat patients with active lupus nephritis.

Local non-profit Applied Pharmaceutical Innovation (API), played a part in the effort.  API is a not-for-profit institution hosted by the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences that helps innovators in the pharmaceutical space in the Edmonton region launch their ideas into the real world. They connect industry to the services they need for commercial success, and help accelerate the drug development process. They provide expertise, services, and infrastructure to drug developers and they recently worked with Aurinia on its clinical trial data prior to approval. 

“It’s incredibly exciting,” said API CEO, Andrew MacIsaac, “From our perspective, this approval is as exciting as a Nobel prize. It demonstrates what our pharmaceutical sector is capable of.”

Dr. Foster credits the research capabilities and expertise that exists in the Edmonton region for much of the success that LUPKYNIS is seeing.

“I can say with 100 percent certainty that the education at the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Alberta is world class,” says Dr. Foster. “Everywhere I went around the world in my pre-COVID travels, I bumped into people from the University of Alberta—medical directors, senior executives, global heads of pharmaceutical companies—it’s just top notch people all over the world.”

“People look at me and see I’ve come from this place called Edmonton that they’d never heard of, and ask ‘how do you create a drug from such a place?’ Usually, they expect to hear about Stanford, Yale, Harvard, the Ivy Leagues. But no, not at all. You can easily get an education at the University of Alberta that is second to none. It’s really an absolutely world class school.”

Dr. Foster is currently working as the CEO of another biotechnology company that he founded in 2014 called Hepion Pharmaceuticals. Hepion bought all the early-stage molecules from Aurinia that Dr. Foster and his team originally discovered.

“Today, Hepion is doing the whole process over again, but with the benefit in each one of our cases, almost 30 years of experience,” says Dr. Foster. 

“We’re working closely with Hepion and are very excited to see what they bring forward. Having another blockbuster drug launch from our region in the near future is very likely,” says MacIsaac. “That’s thanks to the expertise of Dr. Foster and the hundreds of folks who started their careers at Isotechnika pursuing ventures across the life sciences, not to mention the thousands of others working from successful ventures and cutting edge research institutions.”

Edmonton nanotech to provide better, more reliable COVID testing

Dr. David Antoniuk, P.Eng. is the CEO of Applied Quantum Materials Inc.

Applied Quantum Materials (AQM), a local nanotechnology firm has reached an agreement with Alberta Health Services (AHS) to provide nucleic acid extraction kits for use in the province’s COVID-19 testing program. AQM is a world leader in the research, development and synthesis of nanoparticles for a broad range of applications including sensors, energy, semiconductor lithography and bio-diagnostics. Prior to COVID, AQM’s focus was on delivering products to international customers for a wide scope of uses – biotechnology was just one of many sectors that benefits from their technology. But the pandemic saw them pivot their operations to focus on the immediate needs they saw developing in the health system. According to AQM CEO, Dr. David Antoniuk, while it took some time to secure the contract with AHS, developing the extraction kits was straightforward.

“When we first heard that AHS and Alberta Precision Labs were having trouble securing a stable supply of the reagents needed to keep up with the testing that was happening, I said to my team, ‘We know how to do this – let’s do it,’” said David. “We set to work developing the first iteration and it was ready for testing within a couple months.”

After the initial attempt it was just a matter of refining to get the best product possible. “In the end, we developed a high-quality product that was superior to the ones that AHS had been securing from international vendors,” said David. “The products they were using was based on 20 year old technology. We came at the problem with the most up to date technological advances in nanotechnology and built a product that is better quality and more effective. Essentially, our beads are far more sensitive, reducing false negatives, and making the COVID test more accurate. It’s a win-win situation. AQM can deliver a more reliable supply of a more effective product.” Applied Quantum Materials (AQM) is the first local company to secure a contract with AHS to supply these kits. By sourcing these products locally, AHS will not only have a much better overall product, but they will also have a more stable and secure supply chain.

Dr. Mori Javadi, Director of Scientific Product Development developed the MagDx nanoparticles

Development of AQM’s nucleic acid testing products was also supported through advisory services and research and development funding from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP). Going forward, AQM plans to make use of the Business and Scale-up Program offered by Western Diversification to expand production capacity. 

David believes there is room to scale AQM’s existing capacity to supply all of Canada with the reagents needed to support the testing being done. He sees a lot of potential for applications of nanotechnology in the life sciences sector. Beyond testing for other diseases, David points to other initiatives that AQM is already involved in, like providing quantum dots for a pharma company that is using photo light therapy for anti-aging masks and wound healing. Or another project where they are seeking final FDA approval on a product they’ve developed to place alignment marks on interocular lenses for patients with cataracts. 

AQM also produces silicon quantum dots, a photoluminescent semiconductor that are key to other potential medical products. Seen here under ultraviolet light.

“Nanotechnology supports a lot of the initiatives that exist to diversify our economy,” said David. “A great example is clean tech. Clean tech doesn’t exist without nanotechnology.”

In fact, AQM has developed a clean energy innovation called luminescent solar concentrators which essentially turns windows into power generating units. 

According to David, the Edmonton region’s strength in nanotechnology is one of our best kept secrets. Alberta developed a nanotechnology strategy more than 20 years ago and the infrastructure that exists here as a result, make it a great place to build a company like AQM. In 2001, the National Research Council established a national nanotechnology lab at the University of Alberta. 

“The University of Alberta has world-leading nanofabrication facilities and researchers,” said David. “And back when we started, we were the world leaders in this type of technology. People were coming from all over the world to learn from what we were doing here. My team benefits from having access to these great facilities.”

This infrastructure means that the Edmonton region has the ability to continue to be a world leader in nanotechnology.

“A steady rotation of interns from the universities and polytechnics provide AQM with a distinct advantage,” says AQM CEO, David Antoniuk

According to David, the post-secondary institutions in the region also produce a reliable supply of talent in this area. 

“We have a steady rotation of interns coming out of the universities and polytechnics,” said David. “And we’ve built an excellent and dedicated team. Many students start as interns with AQM and eventually graduate into permanent positions with our organization – it’s a great system for us. These former interns are already familiar with the work we are doing at AQM and are ready to hit the ground running with us.  Unfortunately, there are many students who graduate with their Master’s or PhDs, and there aren’t enough jobs available to support them. Many are having to leave the province to find work in their field.”

AQM started as a spin-off company from the University of Alberta when David realized the potential for commercializing some of the work that was being done out of the Department of Chemistry. David had been active in the nanotech sector in Alberta for some time. His previous role with the Government of Alberta as the Director of Nanotechnology meant he had an in depth understanding of the regional strengths that existed. When he was contacted by a researcher in Finland that was trying to source nanomaterials, David knew we had the capabilities in our region to supply the type of products they were looking for. 

“After that, it became a question of doing a market assessment and figuring out what else we could commercialize,” said David. “Since then, we’ve grown to establish contracts to supply some of the biggest MNEs in the world – from a wide array of sectors. We now supply products to over 100 clients in 20 countries.”

Learn more about the life sciences sector in the Edmonton region

Learn more about the supporting infrastructure for nanotechnology in the Edmonton region here

Canadian Innovators Take Rising COVID Cases Head-On

Dr. Mark Curial demonstrates use of the portable Aerosol Containment Tent (ACT) on a mannequin (credit: MACH32

Edmonton-based companies MACH32 and Andau Medical bring to market an aerosol containment device to reduce risk of COVID-19 exposure for healthcare personnel and patients.

Canadian Innovators at MACH32 have vowed to build better protection for healthcare personnel as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country. The Public Health Agency of Canada acknowledged last week that the COVID-19 virus is spread through aerosols, small droplets which linger in the air. As a result, the risk to healthcare personnel and patients is higher than originally anticipated and greater precautionary measures are needed. MACH32 says negative pressure patient isolation for high risk procedures is the key to making hospital environments safer.

Dr. Marc Curial and the MACH32 team have developed a device called the Aerosol Containment Tent (ACT). The ACT is designed to create a negative pressure zone around a patient’s head during critical airway procedures such as intubation and ventilation. “Airway procedures are the most high-risk procedures for exposure to aerosolized COVID-19 particles,” says Dr. Curial. “The ACT needs to become the standard for care in hospitals now and after this pandemic for all aerosol-generating procedures.”

The ACT device uses negative pressure and a HEPA filter to contain 99.97% of particles, rather than allowing the particles to escape into the surrounding environment. It is the only portable device on the market that enables clinicians to perform procedures while the patient is under negative pressure, providing an additional layer of protection to healthcare personnel.

In partnership with Edmonton-based medical device distributor Andau Medical, MACH32 is actively pursuing adoption in hospitals across Canada. While negative pressure isolation rooms are widely used in healthcare, the ACT provides portable, patient-specific negative pressure isolation that provides healthcare personnel with equivalent or better protection at a fraction of the cost.

“Clinicians performing high risk aerosol generating procedures are better protected when procedures are performed under negative pressure,” adds Sandi Wright, Founder & CEO of Andau Medical. “PPE is not enough, and we need to think beyond face masks to keep our health systems functional and the risk to healthcare personnel and patients as low as possible.”

Healthcare facilities impacted by COVID-19 infections and exposures lead to staff shortages and procedural delays. Staff exposure leads to loss of resources, increased overtime and staff burn-out. “We no longer have to risk delaying or cancelling elective procedures,” says Dr. Curial. “I’m proud of my dedicated team for rising to the COVID challenge and building this innovative solution.”

About MACH32

MACH32 Inc was founded in 2019 by Dr. Marc Curial and Chris Terriff, P.Eng, two Edmonton-based entrepreneurs intent on developing practical solutions for the healthcare market. MACH32 is a start-up company, determined to create safe, reliable, and functional tools to save lives in urgent situations. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the idea for the Aerosol Containment Tent (ACT) was rapidly designed and developed to protect healthcare personnel from infectious aerosols. MACH32 product portfolio also includes drug-delivery systems for pre-hospital trauma care.

About Andau Medical

Andau Medical is a Canadian Medical Device and Dental Device company focused on providing the market with quality technologies that improve patient outcomes and enhance the clinical experience in delivering exceptional patient care. With expertise in sales, marketing, regulatory and distribution Andau Medical actively collaborates with manufacturers who have unique products that drive value in the delivery of patient care in Canada. The ACT is a Catalyst4care Project.

New rapid COVID-19 test taking off at EIA

GLC, Edmonton company, testing new technology exclusively at airport 

In partnership with GLC Medical (GLCM) Inc., a subsidiary of Graphene Leaders Canada (GLC) Inc., an Edmonton-based company, EIA will host clinical trials of this new technology that has the potential to have global implications for COVID-19 testing. This test is conducted with a handheld unit that takes a saliva sample from a person and is expected to tell if someone has COVID-19 in under 1-minute, compared to other tests with longer laboratory-based waiting periods for results.  This test promises many advantages from its ease of use to the elimination of the nasal swab to direct virus detection.  This kind of test will help address the need for a 14-day quarantine period in Canada and potentially other international quarantine restrictions. By removing or reducing this barrier, it can help travellers feel safer in returning to travel.  

GLC Medical (GLCM) Inc. is headquartered in the Edmonton Research Park and has garnered international attention for the development of this test, which is still undergoing clinical testing as part of the regulatory approval process with health authorities. As an airport, EIA understands working with governments and within a regulated structure. With secure and safe facilities and a consistent flow of passengers, it’s one reason an airport is an ideal place to start testing the trial phase of this new COVID-19 rapid test.   

“We all want travel to get back to normal and a rapid COVID-19 test will accelerate this return while enhancing passenger confidence in the safety of our industry.  While we have seen some growth in recent months, our passenger numbers during COVID-19 continue to remain low and a test like this is crucial to our future. All airlines, airports and the whole travel and hospitality sector are looking for this solution. If EIA can play a role in bringing new technology and science forward by partnering with experts like GLC that’s exactly what we’re going to do. This is an exciting opportunity for all of us.” 

-Tom Ruth, President and CEO, Edmonton International Airport 

“We are very excited to offer the world a graphene-enhanced rapid solution in COVID-19 virus detection. The opportunity to collaborate with EIA, a world-respected airport authority, to enable travel and to bring families back together is very rewarding for us. This graphene-enhanced rapid test demonstrates the power of graphene innovation to overcome the challenges of COVID-19. GLC is proud to be a part of EIA’s initiative in setting the global standard in safety and reliability for their travellers.” 

-Donna Mandau, President & CEO, Graphene Leaders Canada (GLC) Inc. / GLC Medical (GLCM) Inc. 

Prototype of the rapid COVID-19 testing unit. Credit: GLC Medical

 How the test works 

  • The person being tested provides a saliva sample into the testing unit; 
  • The graphene surface inside the testing unit is designed to bond to the spike protein in the virus; 
  • This binding event changes the electronic characteristics of the graphene, and this measurable change is what is used to determine if a person is infected or not; 
  • The device will show a red or green light in under 1-minute to indicate if a person is virus free or not; 
  • The test is not required to be administered by a medical professional and with training can be administered by anyone, similar to how basic first aid training is done. 

 The next step is to bring this test and GLC to EIA and establish a safe and secure test site. Details about the testing and the process will be shared in the coming weeks. A start date has not been determined, but once it begins, the clinical trial will last several weeks over this fall. This trial phase will help GLC Medical secure regulatory approval and certification for its test from Health Canada and other regulatory bodies, including in the United States and other areas of the world. 

 As a not-for-profit corporation, EIA works to attract investment and jobs to the Edmonton Metro Region and support local innovation. Airports connect global communities and create opportunities for people and business. The partnership with GLC Medical has tremendous opportunities to impact many industries beyond just the travel industry. EIA is focused on safety and security as its number one core value and creating a safe passenger experience at the airport is a priority. The EIA Ready program focuses not only on enhanced cleaning but also seeking out and adopting new innovations and technologies to help passengers feel comfortable in the airport and with travel overall. The recent announcement of EIA being accredited by Airports Council International (ACI) with the airport health certification is yet another example of how EIA is putting safety and security as a top priority in creating a safe airport. Visit flyeia.com/ready for more information.  

About Edmonton International Airport 

Edmonton International Airport is a self-funded, not-for-profit corporation whose mandate is to drive economic prosperity for the Edmonton Region. EIA is Canada’s fifth-busiest airport by passenger traffic and the largest major Canadian airport by land area. EIA offers non-stop connections to destinations across Canada, the US, Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe. EIA is a major economic driver, with an economic output of over $3.2 billion, supporting over 26000 jobs. For more information, please visit: flyeia.com, follow @flyeia on TwitterInstagramLinkedin or Facebook

About GLC  

Graphene Leaders Canada (GLC) Inc. is a Canadian technology company producing high quality, high purity graphene nanomaterials which functions as a platform technology with the ability to add value across numerous applications. Graphene Leaders Canada Inc. is focused to work with industry to develop solutions by integrating the graphene to develop new innovative products.  GLC’s tag line is “Making Great Products Even Greater”.   

GLC Medical (GLCM) Inc. is a subsidiary of GLC Inc. and offers graphene solutions in the medical industry leveraging our material science expertise in working with high quality graphene and developing products and solutions to serve the betterment of People and Planet.    

U of A nanotech facility gets funding boost to ramp up to commercial scale

$3.4M investment will allow local company to mass-produce tiny medical devices that can monitor vital signs, help diagnose disease or even restore eyesight.

NanoFAB director Eric Flaim (left) shows Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi some of the devices nanotechnology companies can manufacture at the U of A facility, which received a total of $3.4 million in new funding today to expand its capacity to commercial scale. (Photo: Michael Brown)

Microscopically thin films of metal are essential to tiny biomedical devices placed in the human body to monitor vital signs, diagnose disease or even restore eyesight.

Every micron of the film has to be carefully placed on the device’s sensor, which means manufacturing on a commercial scale is a daunting challenge.

But thanks to a $3.4-million investment in the University of Alberta’s nanoFAB facility by the federal and provincial governments—as well as by Micralyne Inc., a local company that builds nano-devices for biomedical applications—commercializing nanotechnology research has become much easier.

The funding will be used to purchase a high-volume deposition tool used for applying thin films, along with contact aligners and etching tools—all of which will allow companies to manufacture devices quickly by the thousands.

“We’ve been moving wafers and chips along manually, but we were missing a way to move thousands along on a regular basis,” said Micralyne president and CEO Ian Roane at today’s funding announcement.

“These tools we’re buying allow us to really scale up,” he said, adding that his company plans to hire 50 or 60 more employees to meet expected demand once the tools are up and running.

“We have a commitment from a very large biomedical company that plans to repatriate production back to Canada,” added Roane. “This is a way of keeping our highly qualified professionals in this province.”

Some of the biomedical devices Micralyne manufactures include tiny sensors that measure blood pressure in the body or brain pressure in the skull, or restore eyesight using small needles implanted behind the eyes, said Roane.

The $1-million federal portion of the funding is part of Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan aimed at creating new jobs for the global economy.

“Our investment in the University of Alberta will make nanoFAB a cornerstone of the regional innovation ecosystem,” said Amarjeet Sohi, federal minister of natural resources, who announced the funding on behalf of Western Economic Diversification Canada.

“It will help firms develop new micro- and nanotechnology while creating well-paying jobs and prosperity for Canada.”

The Alberta government will also contribute $1 million for the tools, and Micralyne will pitch in $1.4 million.

“Industry partners like Micralyne look for interesting research coming out of the U of A, hoping to scoop those up, add them to their manufacturing portfolio and sell them all around the world,” said Eric Flaim, director of nanoFAB, a national, open-access training, service and collaboration centre supporting research and development in nano sciences and engineering.

Flaim said nanoFAB currently has 17 staff members supporting more than 50 companies in the manufacture of products. In the short term, the new tools will help 10 Alberta companies bring five products to market, hire dozens of highly qualified personnel and generate $20 million in industry revenue.

“There comes a point in your research where being able to work on these kind of ideas becomes limited by the reliability, repeatability and uniformity of what you’re actually making,” he said.

“These tools will increase researchers’ ability to make more reliable devices, while creating a pathway for those products to be moved into industrial manufacturing.”

In addition to biomedical devices, micro- and nanotechnology developed at the U of A is used in a range of applications in life sciences, clean technology, digital technology and other sectors.

“U of A researchers are working at the forefront of micro- and nanotechnology,” said U of A president David Turpin. “With industry and government support like we’re seeing today, we are shaping a world-class innovation and manufacturing sector right here in Alberta.”

“Our government’s investment will help diversify Alberta’s micro- and nanotechnology sector … and support future innovation and long-term economic and social benefits for Alberta,” said Deron Bilous, Alberta minister of economic development and trade.

5 fantastic health innovations from Edmonton in 2018

From lab-grown human tissue, to a simple case for life-saving pills, Edmonton brains came up with some pretty cool stuff in 2018.

One of my favourite parts of being the health reporter for Global Edmonton is the backstage pass to mind-blowing medical research in our city. Narrowing it all down to a few of the most innovative technologies or treatments every year is never easy, but here are my picks for 2018.

1. Donor lung assessment tool

In the past five years, the University of Alberta Hospital’s transplant team managed to increase the number of lung transplants from 30 per year to over 70. That’s thanks to their ex vivo perfusion technology, which allows them to store donor lungs outside of the body while they treat or repair the organs. It means previously unusable lungs could be transplanted — and the process became even more effective in 2018. Two doctors, Jayan Nagendran and Benjamin Adam, developed an assessment tool to measure the exact amount of injury in donor lungs and treat them accordingly, optimizing the organs’ health for their new person.

2. Sensation in missing limbs

We’ve seen some incredibly sophisticated bionic limbs over the years, but one thing they’re all missing is feeling. Dr. Jackie Hebert’s team partnered with researchers from the Cleveland Clinic to figure out a way for a person with no hand to sense complex hand movements. That involved surgically rewiring the nerves of six patients and using tiny robots to vibrate the muscles. It resulted in patients using their prosthetic limbs up to 300 times better than before — because they didn’t have to watch every move.

3. Lab-grown nose cartilage

Right now, if you needed your nose reconstructed, surgeons would move cartilage from your ears or ribs to the middle of your face. That would require several surgeries and a potentially long recovery period. But three Edmonton doctors — Adetola Adesida, Kal Ansari and Martin Osswald — developed a way to grow nasal cartilage in a lab. They take a tiny biopsy and seed the cells on a collagen scaffold, sprouting an unlimited supply of cartilage from the patients’ own cells.

4. Prostate cancer blood test

Dr. John Lewis’ U of A team has been developing Clarity DX for years. In 2018, it finally progressed to widespread testing across Alberta. The simple blood test is 40 per cent more accurate than the standard PSA test, and can predict which men need a biopsy and which can safely avoid the painful procedure.

5. SMHeartCard

Aspirin and nitroglycerin are standard emergency medications for patients with heart attack symptoms, yet a U of A study shows only 20 per cent of heart disease patients carry nitroglycerin. Part of the problem is that it often comes in a glass bottle. That’s why doctors John Mackey and Neal Davies, along with retired engineer James Stewart, invented the SMHeartCard, a compact plastic container that protects the pills and fits easily into a wallet, purse or pocket.

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