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Ottawa invests $20 million in image-guided therapies

Barry McLellanTORONTO – The federal government, through FedDev Ontario, is investing up to $20 million to Sunnybrook Research Institute, towards total project costs of more than $41 million. The investments will help the partners involved further develop image-guided therapies and create 165 high-quality, full-time jobs across various sectors in southern Ontario.

Sunnybrook, in collaboration with 32 partners including four universities (Western University, Ryerson University, University of Toronto and Queen’s University) and up to 28 businesses, will use the funding to accelerate the commercialization of 28 innovative technologies.

“Sunnybrook Research Institute leads in the development and commercialization of image-guided therapeutics,” said Dr. Barry McLellan (pictured), President and CEO, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. “Continued investment from FedDev Ontario will enable us to capitalize on the significant advances we have made and invest in new inventions. This work of our scientists, industry collaborators and academic partners aims for a single brass ring: provision of the best patient care.”

This project will provide necessary laboratory, business and commercialization support to image-guided therapy companies in the region, and solidify southern Ontario’s position as a leader for image-guided therapeutics.

The contribution is through FedDev Ontario’s Investing in Commercialization Partnerships initiative, which encourages business-led partnerships with post-secondary institutions and not-for-profit organizations to create new products, technologies and services.

Image-guided procedures are less invasive, provide real-time feedback to physicians and can be customized for individual patients.

Sunnybrook is one of the top three research hospitals in Toronto and employs more than 1,200 research, technical and administrative staff.

Thanks to a previous $6.91-million investment from FedDev Ontario, Sunnybrook Research Institute, Western University and 18 companies have developed and refined 23 new technologies. Some of these are now being sold internationally.

The new, non-repayable contribution of up to $20 million, towards total project costs of more than $41 million, will be used by Sunnybrook to expand the image-guided therapy cluster it initially developed.

Participating collaborators are expected to include four universities (Western University, Ryerson University, University of Toronto and Queen’s University) and 28 industry partners. Sunnybrook, along with its partners, will advance the commercialization of technologies in the following five areas:

• Focused ultrasound (FUS): Focused ultrasound is a unique non-invasive image-guided therapy with broad clinical potential. This proposal will support the creation of a low-cost portable focused ultrasound system, develop improved research tools for the field and expand the range of FUS uses.

• Cardiovascular interventions: Cardiovascular interventions are some of the most challenging procedures due to the difficulties of cardiac/respiratory motion and the limitations of traditional image guidance. Sunnybrook will develop platforms that will vastly improve the guidance of cardiovascular interventions to make procedures faster, more accurate and safer.

• Therapy response: Therapy response monitoring is a new aspect of image-guided therapeutics that determines the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiation therapy in the very early stages of treatment. Sunnybrook will develop technologies capable of improving the therapy-feedback cycle.

• Musculoskeletal interventions: Musculoskeletal imaging is important for diagnosis, treatment planning and in-procedure guidance of injury- and disease-related disorders. Sunnybrook will utilize 3D imaging to improve diagnostics, safe and effective image guidance and optimized patient-specific solutions.

• Detection: Sunnybrook and partners seek to improve on existing breast cancer detection technologies by improving visualization of the disease to guide treatment decision-making.

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