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135 healthcare and wellness Articles | Page: | Show All

Biopharmaceutical company UCB Canada gets approval for epilepsy treatment, expects "constant hiring"

Health Canada has given its approval to the new antiepileptic drug Vimpat from UCB Canada. The treatment represents a potential benefit to sufferers of epilepsy and a toehold in the neurological treatment field for Oakville biopharmaceutical company UCB.

The Oakville office, the Canadian branch of international pharmaceutical giant UCB, had previously had a treatment for immunology, according to Business Unit Director Ross Glover, "This is a big milestone for the company this is the first of several neurological treatments we intend to bring to the Canadian market."

The company's Canadian office was launched in 2006, Glover says, with the dual goals of bringing UCB's global therapies to the Canadian market and to do homegrown research that would "bring the benefit of our Canadian neurologists to the global platform." In its four years, the company has grown to employ 28 staff in the GTA.

This approval will of course, Glover says, mean growth for the company, and he anticipates further growth in step with research outcomes. "As far as employment goes, I expect ongoing hiring for the next five years as we go forward and as we have success."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Ross Glover, UCB Canada Inc.

Vaughan-based Lunch Lady grows from one mom to employ 235 franchisees and staff

Ruthie Burd had an autistic son, with all the attendant scheduling challenges that entails. So, back in the early 1990s, she was looking for a business she could do from home, in the afternoons and around his schedule. She remembers reading about a New York entrepreneur who bought sandwiches at delis and delivered them to offices, and wondered if she could do something similar for children's lunches.

She set up shop as The Lunch Lady in 1993, offering to make lunches for schoolchildren, though she says it was nearly two years before she got into a single school as a provider. Today, the business she launched in Vaughan -- she started selling franchises when it got too large for her to manage in 1999 -- has 47 franchises across the country, employs about 235 people, and provides healthy meals in 824 schools as we talk this week (a gain of five schools since just last week).

Burd says that when she started, people didn't really think what she was offering was valuable, but in the intervening years awareness about healthy eating for children has led to rocketing growth. "I think we were a little ahead of the curve. People's attitude to food is changing, and we're really now attracting customers, staff and franchisees who are passionate about eating healthy."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Ruthie Burd, The Lunch Lady

Strategy team confronts economic problems of Ontario's bioscience industry

At one time, Ontario was home to the world's third-largest biotechnology cluster. Now, according to Cathy Carter, on behalf of the Ontario Bioscience Industry Organization (OBIO), the sector is struggling for its survival.

In response to the economic challenges facing the bioscience industry, health-sciences leaders from across the province are teaming up to form a group called Ontario Bioscience Economic Strategy Team (OBEST), Carter's organization announced (.pdf) last week. The team will be seeking ideas for sustainability in the industry. "OBEST is a unique coalition of stakeholders in our health-science industry contributing unmatched breadth in insight and expertise to ensure sustainability and foster growth," says OBEST advisory committee chair Dr. Daniel Billen. "Health-science is a key growth area in Ontario's emerging innovation economy."

Organizers of the group say that they'll be seeking ideas far and wide and then adjusting their strategy as they achieve milestones -- "an ongoing process of renewal and revitalization as we design it to build around the best ideas," according to OBIO President Gail Garland.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Cathy Carter, OBIO

"Humanitarian Spirit" makes innovative Getinge one of GTA's top employers

When an earthquake struck Haiti this year, Mississauga's Getinge Canada sprung into action, donating a sterilizer and other medical infection-control supplies to the relief efforts. Technicians from Getinge Canada even traveled to Haiti to install the equipment and provide training to Hatian personnel. 

According to Getinge President Doug Friesen, this "humanitarian spirit" is why his company has been named one of the GTA's best employers and one of the best small- and medium-sized businesses in Canada to work for by AON Consulting and Queen's University. "Our work inspires our employees, supports our customers and impacts our Health Care System and the Life Science Industry in Canada," Friesen said in a statement accepting the honour.

The Mississauga business is the Canadian office of Swedish Health Sciences giant Getinge, an innovative company that is among the world's leaders in infection control and sterilizers. Friesen explains that the offices in Mississauga offices have been operating for over 30 years, previously as MDT Corporation and before that Castle Sterilizer Company. Getinge acquired the Canadian operation in 1996. In the GTA, Getinge now employs 60 staff.

Friesen attributes the company's continued growth to its employees. "Our core business has grown by multiples due to our outstanding employees," he says in response to a question by email. "We have a total of 60 employees today and plan to add positions as we continue to grow."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Doug Friesen, President, Getinge Canada

SickKids cancer care centre gets $30 million gift, funding jobs for 6 researchers

In 1975, Myron and Berna Garron lost their son to paediatric cancer. In the intervening years, the family has donated more than $1.3 million to the Hospital for Sick Children (known as Sick Kids) to support research and treatment of cancers. Now, the family has made what is thought to be the largest private donation in the field to the hospital -- $30 million.

"Our son was treated for cancer at Sick Kids for many years and we will never forget the dedication and level of care he received," the Garrons said in a statement. "We are confident this gift will help create more positive outcomes for cancer patients and their families."

The money will establish the Garron Family Cancer Centre at the hospital and will fund six jobs for researchers through research chairs and scientist/clinician positions. It will also help fund innovative cancer therapy research. "The impact of donations, such as the one from the Garron family, is immeasurable," said Dr. James Whitlock, chief of haematology/oncology at Sick Kids. "This gift helps Sick Kids stay at the forefront of paediatric cancer care and research and will ultimately help children with cancer to live longer, more fulfilling lives."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Meredith Sjogren, Communications Associate, SickKids Foundation

Sheridan College gets $2.3 million for research into innovative treatment of aging

Sheridan College in Oakville set up the Elder Research Centre (SERC) in 2003 to conduct research into helping older Candians as they age. Earlier this week, the federal government announced a $2.3 million grant to the centre as part of the College and Community Innovation Program.

The money will support the centre's groundbreaking "Aging in Place" project, which the school's release says, "will see SERC collaborate with small and medium-sized companies in the research and design of technology applications that promote cognitive health and social inclusion. Ten founding partners will work together with Sheridan researchers, faculty members and students; the partners include Acclaim Heath and Community Care Services, Cerebral Vortex, pigeon*branding + design, PointerWare Innovations, Posit Science Corporation, Recreational Respite, the Region of Halton, Retire-at-Home, Schlegel Seniors Villages and Symetric Productions."

In announcing the grant and 10 others in the program, federal Minister of Industry Tony Clement said "These new partnerships will provide skills training for the communities in which they are based, position Canadian colleges as a destination for top research talent and give local businesses in communities across the country access to the knowledge and resources they need to innovate and commercialize new products and services."

"This is an important announcement for SERC, Sheridan and the broader communities we serve," Jeff Zabudsky, Sheridan's president and CEO, said. "By collaborating with regional companies, we can help to foster innovation and economic development at a local level."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: Susan Atkinson, Sheridan College; Lynn Meahan, office of Minister Tony Clement

Xagenic draws $1.04M investment for commercialization, will create 5 jobs

A Toronto-based company that has developed a new disease diagnosis device that could be used for cancer and other genetic diseases has drawn $1.04 million in financing for commercialization of its project. Xagenic was created by U of T researcher Dr. Shana Kelley as a spin-off from the university to commercialize the research.

Funding comes from several sources: $500,000 from MaRS [pdf], a $300,000 loan from the government of Ontario's new HTX commercialization program, $200,000 from the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research and $40,000 from the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Commercialization of Research.

According to a statement from Dr. Kelley, the funding "will enable Xagenic and its clinical development partner, the University Health Network, to confirm critical clinical sensitivity and specificity parameters for the technology." HTX estimates that Xagenic will create five jobs during the immediate commercialization process, with more expected later.

An announcement from Rafi Hofstein, CEO of MaRS Innovation, said that this is the first of several announcements from the business incubator of new investments over the next several months. "MaRS Innovation is very excited about the potential of the Xagenic technology. It is still early days for this company. This investment, however, sends a strong signal to researchers working in our partner institutions. MaRS Innovation wants to help develop Ontario technology to its fullest potential,right here and right now."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: Rafi Hofstein, CEO, MaRS Innovation; Marcelle Mundle, Marketing and Communications Manager, HTX

InDanio Bioscience gets $100K in invesment for innovative drug research from OGI

InDanio Bioscience, an early-stage drug discovery company founded by U of T researcher Dr. Henry Krause and his colleague Dr. Jen Tiefenchach to search for human nuclear receptors through the use of genetically engineered zebrafish. The research could lead to drug discoveries serving a lucrative market already estimated at $16 billion.

Last week, the Ontario Genomics Institute announced an investment of $100,000 in InDanio under its pre-commercialization business development fund. In the announcement, InDanion board member Dr. Paul Jefferson said that the investment would allow the company to identify the function of certain nuclear receptors and "thus form the basis for establishing commercial partnerships to further characterize such receptors and develop drugs targeting them."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Sources: Alastair Harris-Cartwright, Corporate Communications Manager, OGI; John McCulloch, MaRS blog

Edithvale, T.O.'s first new community centre in five years opens, $14.75M innovative green design

In 1984, the Edithvale Community Centre opened in a disused Willowdale Public School. Now, more than a quarter century later, it has finally grown up into a new, innovative $14.75 million building of its own. The new centre -- the first community centre opened in the city of Toronto since 2005 -- was officially opened this past weekend. The bill for its two-year construction was funded by levees on developers of condominiums in the area.

The new building features an innovative green design that includes low off-gassing building materials, an efficient ventilation system and motion sensitive light fixtures, in addition to a green roof. To serve the community, the facility includes a gymnasium, a banquet hall, lounges, a demonstration kitchen, fitness facilities and an elevated track. The U-shaped structure was constructed around a 50-year-old tree at the centre of the site.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation

Two leading mayoral candidates endorse local accessibility software for City use

As the election campaign comes to a close, the two candidates for mayor who have been leading in the polls have both endorsed a local software solution to make the city's website more accessible to those with disabilities.

An announcement by Riverdale-based eSSENTIAL Accessibility heralds commitments by George Smitherman and Rob Ford to make www.toronto.ca accessible to those with disabilities -- users who have trouble typing or moving a mouse or reading a screen, for instance. Both candidates display the company's blue wheelchair-and-computer logo on their campaign websites, and both claim a commitment to extending a policy of e-accessibility to city communications.

"The disability community wants to elect a mayor who understands and responds to their un-met online needs," says Spiro Papathanasakis, Director eSSENTIAL Accessibility Inc.  "The two leading candidates have demonstrated their commitment to digital inclusion and e-participation in the election process, which means Toronto will soon see the elimination of barriers to online government services that many disabled residents face."

The company provides a button that is a turnkey solution for website operators. When users with disabilities click on it, it allows them to download the assisted-browsing services they require to properly interact with the site. According a release, "As the first mayoral candidates in the world to embrace this technology, Ford and Smitherman are participating in an Online Social ResponsAbility initiative sponsored by March of Dimes Canada.  Their Toronto will be an e-City that institutionalizes these practices to achieve top rank on the global stage."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Spiro Papathanasakis, Director, eSSENTIAL Accessibility

Sick Kids researcher develops new laser technology for scarless surgery

A research team at the Hospital for Sick Children has unveiled findings that demonstrates a new laser technique significantly reduces scarring after surgery. The results of the team's research were published September 28 in the online, peer-reviewed journal PLoS ONE.

The study examined the use of a new surgical laser called Picosecond IR Laser (PIRL) as compared to other lasers and traditional implements like scalpels, and showed that in mice, use of the PIRL reduced scarring by 50 per cent and led to wounds that heal faster.

"Achieving minimal scarring is beneficial to patients, especially in cases where scarring can be particularly debilitating," Dr. Benjamin Alman, a Sick Kids scientist who was one of the study's two principle researchers, said in a release. "By reducing healing time this new surgical method could also result in increased patient comfort and lower risk of secondary infections due to surgery." The study concludes that the technique looks promising and adult trials could proceed "as early as next year."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Matet Nebres, Media Relations Manager, The Hospital for Sick Children

Dental innovators CHX Technologies cleared for EU marketing, to seek US approval soon

The innovative dental application Prevora, developed by Mississauga's CHX Technologies Inc., has been shown in trials to reduce cavities in uninsured adults and those using state dental services by 60 per cent. Already approved for sale in Canada and Ireland, the company reached another marketing milestone when Prevora was recently approved for sale in the UK by the European Medicines Agency. The organization also allows for the product to be recognized in other European Union member states.

Prevora is a topical application that coats the tooth and releases high-strength chlorhexidine into the tooth over the long term, inhibiting the growth of bacteria that cause tooth decay. The company reports that the UK is a promising market for their product, as tooth decay is among the top three chronic diseases in older adults.

A statement sent by company President Ross Perry says the company will seek US approval for the treatment soon. He says that the recent news is a boon to the company's progress. "Prevora will reduce the burden of tooth decay amongst those high-risk dental patients who experience most of this disease in a family dental practice. This positive opinion by the EMA is an important step to Prevora's approval in European markets."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Ross Perry, President, CHX Technologies Inc.

U of T prof gets $100,000 grant for schizophrenia gene research

University of Toronto professor Albert H.C. Wong has received a $99,516 grant from the US-based brain and behaviour research fund NARSAD.

Wong, who works as a neuroscience research scientist and staff psychiatrist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, will get the funding to support his research project entitled "Disc-1 Gene-Environment Interactions in Schizophrenia and Depression," which investigates variations in a schizophrenia gene.

Wong's was one of 42 grants totalling $4.1 million awarded by NARSAD late last month as part of its Independent Investigators grant program. Wong has previously received two other grants from NARSAD's Young Investigator program. Robert Post, who sits on the 116-member scientific council that awards the grants, says the money will lead to significant discoveries. "We identify those proposals we believe demonstrate the most innovative and promising paths toward better understanding and treatment of psychiatric disorders. As always, the committee was challenged in its selection process and ultimately extremely proud to recommend and support these 42 brilliant, dedicated scientists."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Barbara Wheeler, NARSAD

Pickering's Pucker-Up brings hockey dad innovation to stores across Canada

One day in 2008, after spending too long collecting assorted pucks up off the ice after hockey practice, 12-year-old Christopher Wright asked his father to invent a device to make the task easier. His dad, Bill Wright, went home and came up with a prototype for a puck-lifting and storage device that proved to save time and wear and tear on backs and hands.

That product, tested on the ice at Pickering's Don Beer Arena, has been picked up for distribution by Canadian Tire. After signing a deal to become Canada's official retailer for National Hockey League equipment, the chain is making a significant push into the hockey market this year, and it expects the Wright's Pucker-Up innovation to be a hot seller, spectators were told at a media event at a Pickering Canadian Tire store on Sept. 10.

"From the mind of a child, to the ingenuity of his father," Mark Guinto of the Pickering mayor's office says by email, "this locally invented and tested product will be on Canadian Tire shelves across the country. And Mr. Wright didn't even have to go on the Dragon's Den to pitch it."

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Mark Guinto, Public Affairs Coordinator, Office of the Mayor of Pickering

MaRS has $7 million to give to innovative life sciences firms

"Since joining the Investment Accelerator Fund (IAF) in July, the most common question I've had from my contacts in the venture capital and angel investing world is: 'Is the IAF going to be making new investments?'" writes Barry Gekiere, managing director of the IAF at MaRS. "The answer I want everyone to hear is: 'Yes!'"

The IAF announced on August 30 that it has a new endowment of $7 million in the fund to invest in innovative tech startups involved in the life sciences. According to the criteria for the grants, funding of up to $500,000 is available to early stage companies that have the potential to be global leaders. "The capital is used to achieve meaningful milestones," he writes, "including market validation and revenue traction in order to attract follow-on financing or even acquisition interest." The fund is endowed by the provincial government and is intended to prepare companies for further investment from venture Capitlaists or Angels. So far, the fund has invested in 34 companies, the majority of which, according to Gekiere, have gone on to get investment from other funders.

Writer: Edward Keenan
Source: Barry Gekiere, Managing Director, Investment Accelerator Fund, MaRS

135 healthcare and wellness Articles | Page: | Show All
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