Can cannabinoids be grown in algae? Yes — according to Mitacs-supported research team

Professor Isabel Desgagné-Penix and her team at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières are the first to demonstrate that cannabinoids can be successfully grown in microalgae by a process called metabolic engineering.

The process of metabolic engineering extracts the genes responsible for cannabinoid production from cannabis plants and inserts them into algae, creating a type of cannabis surrogacy in algae.

A cold basement? A hot upstairs?

The traditional residential-building industry in Canada suffers from poorly designed ducts with undervented and over-vented areas causing large temperature variations, discomfort, and inefficiency. Most of the heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in Canada work based on a single-zone design in which only one thermostat with a single temperature sensor turns the system on and off.

Turning the tide on groundwater contamination

Companies decide to start the mining of a particular uranium deposit based on many factors. One major consideration for mining is the presence of environmentally impactful elements such as arsenic, nickel, and cobalt by-products known as tailings and waste rock.

Water, water everywhere!

“Traffic snarled due to a burst watermain near the Granville Aquaduct,” states News 1130.

Due to the estimated age of the infrastructure and pipe material, the City of Vancouver had slated the duct for replacement next year. A year too late for all those affected by today’s rupture.

In Canada, the replacement of pipes in poor and very poor conditions requires a total investment of about 25 billion dollars (Canadian Infrastructure Report Card 2016).

It’s alive! Improved methods for growing human cells can lead to new cures

That’s why Mitacs Globalink students Friederike Floegel from Germany and Mireya Cervantes González from Mexico joined Professor Frampton’s lab at Dalhousie University in Halifax this summer. They had the opportunity to advance two new approaches for culturing cells that better replicate human tissue.

Friederike created temperature-responsive coatings to produce cells that can be detached to study the specific behaviour of cancer cells; and the coating will also make them easier to reproduce.

Dam good research: New 3D-printed dam models enable better prediction and reduce costs

Under a multi-phase project supported by commercial and educational entities, Austin Engineering creates digitally fabricated dam models for hydraulic and seismic testing at both their own hydraulics lab and at the University of British Columbia’s Applied Laboratory for Advanced Materials and Structures (ALAMS) in Kelowna, BC. Their most recent phase of research was followed by a prestigious international presentation.

Adding Rock ‘n’ Roll So Buildings Withstand Earthquakes

Although an earthquake can devastate in a few short seconds, restoration and reconstruction can take years to complete. In the 2011 Christchurch, New Zealand earthquake, there were only two major building collapses, yet 70 per cent of the city’s downtown had to be demolished because buildings were deemed uninhabitable. Restoration took five years. Earthquake recovery costs are huge. According to an Insurance Board of Canada study, an earthquake either in BC or Quebec would be nearly ten times as costly as the Fort McMurray fires, which cost over $8 billion.

New DNA technology expected to cure genetic diseases

Stargardt’s disease is a rare inherited ocular illness that affects the Canadian population. According to Fighting Blindness Canada, 1 in 8,000 Canadians suffer from Stargardt’s, a degenerative ocular illness that ultimately leads to vision loss. Typically, patients are diagnosed with the disease by the age of 13, and most experience progressive vision loss as they get older. It is not uncommon for patients to develop complete blindness by the age of 35. Still today, despite the many clinical trials taking place, there is no cure for Stargardt’s disease.

Saskatchewan potash producer advances safety

So, when Nutrien, the world’s largest producer of crop inputs, services, and solutions was seeking some out-of-the-box solutions for a safety technology at their Saskatchewan potash mines, they turned to Mitacs to access top research talent.

The resulting collaboration with the University of Regina has produced a new computer algorithm that more accurately identifies potential hazards in the roof of a mined-out cavern—giving workers advanced notice so that they can deploy safety protocols in a timely manner.

BC gets a jump on the big one

The province’s need to be prepared is even more urgent. An earthquake has a domino effect on infrastructure and services. It can knock out power, and damage railway tracks and bridges. It disrupts essential services that hospitals and emergency personnel need to do their jobs. Although on average 3,000 quakes occur in BC each year, the province has not had its readiness tested by a major event recently. But it could happen at any time.

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