New bone glue fuses success for Halifax start-up

Dalhousie postdoc worked to improve patient outcomes while gaining industry experience

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. But before getting their product in hands of the surgeons, Dartmouth Medical Research must thoroughly test it for safety and regulatory approval.

Anthony Bou-FrancisAs a start-up with limited resources and budget, the company partnered with Mitacs and Dalhousie University to supply their research and lab-testing needs.

“The Mitacs program offered us an opportunity to get support for our project as well as the tools, resources, and people we needed to advance our technology,” said James Drage, a Director of Dartmouth Medical Research. “We’re a start-up — we’re small and don’t have everything we need to do the necessary battery of tests required to get our product in the hands of the people that can use it. Working with Mitacs gave us this — and more.”

The start-up is now working with their third student researcher through Mitacs — the two previous now in highly esteemed roles, thanks at least in part to the experience working with Dartmouth Medical Research. One such student is Antony Bou-Francis, who collaborated with the company as a postdoctoral fellow at Dalhousie University.

“Working with Mitacs on this project gave me the opportunity to apply my knowledge and gain industry experience,” says Antony, who is now working as a research and validation engineer at a medical supply company. “I was able to be very involved not only in the research aspect, but also in the product development and methodology — learnings that have invaluable and added great depth to my resume.”

“The calibre of researchers you get to work with through Mitacs is incredible,” says Drage, adding that the students the company has collaborated with are so intelligent, motivated, and interested, that with each new student the company has benefitted from new perspectives— furthering their product even more. The company now has three product lines — all advanced by Mitacs researchers — that they hope to be able to bring to market in the next year.

“We wouldn’t be where we are today without Mitacs’ support and the Dalhousie students that have helped along the way.”

Mitacs thanks the Government of Canada and the Government of Nova Scotia for their support of the Accelerate research internship in this story. Across Canada, the Accelerate program also receives support from Alberta Innovates, the Government of British Columbia, the Government of New Brunswick, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Ontario, the Government of Prince Edward Island, the Government of Quebec, the Government of Saskatchewan and Research Manitoba.

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