In the last couple of years, Canada’s Atlantic salmon farms have faced a surge of parasitic sea lice, making them susceptible to infections or killing entire stocks. Globally, the spread of sea lice now costs up to $1 billion dollars in lost revenues annually.
“Consumers and companies alike are looking for safe and natural ways to keep their products fresher for longer,” says Natasha, CEO of Chinova Bioworks. “But labels full of unpronounceable, artificial ingredients can turn consumers off. It was important to me to create an alternative to the chemical preservatives normally found in food and beverage products.”
While conceptualizing the product, Natasha was searching for someone to take it to the next level — and she knew that Mitacs was available to help fledgling companies like hers.
In collaboration with University of Waterloo-Mitacs researcher, Yael Zilberman-Simakov, LeNano's portable device tests blood for a specific biomarker, a type of protein, elevated by the onset of heart failure. “If a patient has a higher-than-usual concentration of the biomarker, they are at an increased risk of having heart failure,” says Yael. “Similar to how glucose levels should be monitored among diabetic patients, this type of protein needs to be checked every day.Compared to a lab test, personal test devices like LeNano's are faster, simpler, and more convenient.
Barley production, however, has declined over the past 15 years, as Canadian farmers lose ground to international competitors. International beer producers have a thirst for new varieties but Canada’s adoption process is slower than competitor countries. Australia and Germany bring new varietals of barley to market in five to seven years. In Canada, the same two strains have dominated the market for the past 20 years.
The company is a spin-off from McMaster University and was created “organically,” says InnovoGENE CEO Kha Tram. It all started when Kha was completing his PhD at McMaster and was looking to develop technology that could quickly identify E. coli in food. He realized the same technology could be used to rapidly test bacteria in water — and InnovoGENE was born.
This is the focus of Dartmouth Medical Research — a Canadian start-up based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who has a bone adhesive technology and is focused on developing and launching the product into market. The “glue” would provide a simple and fast method of fixing fractures, especially ones where there may be many small fragments that are difficult to fix by conventional means. The adhesive holds bones together while providing more comfort to patients and increasing recovery time.
Working under the direction of University of Alberta Professor Stephanie Yanow and PhD student Catherine Mitran, Ina is looking at samples from pregnant women in several regions in South America who have been infected with a type of malaria parasite called Plasmodium vivax. She’s then exploring the cross-reaction of those samples to that of pregnant women who’ve been infected by a different malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, to see if the first species can create antibodies that contribute to protection against the second species.
This summer, Alexia’s working on a research project with Dr. Anne Ellis at Queen’s University’s Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences. Dr. Ellis’s research explores allergies and their impact on the Canadian population. Alexia’s project will help determine whether links exist between local pollen counts, a mother’s allergies (or lack of them), and biomarkers of children’s potential allergies in umbilical cord blood. From there, researchers will better understand the impact of pollen on children’s health outcomes and whether pollen-related allergies can be prevented.
Supervised by Assistant Professor Eftekhar Eftekharpour, Jesua is part of a research team that is investigating a possible biological connection between diabetes and dementia. While recent population studies point to a correlation between diabetes and an increased risk of developing dementia, researchers don’t yet know the exact biological mechanisms that explain it. Jesua is spending his summer investigating one possible answer.