Ottawa invests $49 million in image-guided therapy
June 19, 2019
OTTAWA – Navdeep Bains (pictured), Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, announced an investment of $49 million in the Industry Consortium for Image-Guided Therapy (ICIGT), a pan-Canadian network led by the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.
“Through the Strategic Innovation Fund we have brought together the best in the public and private sectors to find real healthcare solutions. Our investment in the ICIGT project is helping to leverage Canada’s strengths in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and image-guided therapies to ultimately deliver better health care for Canadians across the country,” says Bains.
Sunnybrook Research Institute submitted the winning bid, which underwent rigorous competition, after a call by the Strategic Innovation Fund for projects in the health and biosciences that improve Canada’s innovation performance while providing economic, innovation and public benefits to Canadians through collaboration between the private sector, researchers and nonprofits.
A network of 70 private and public sector partners will invest more than an additional $76 million, for a total project value of $126 million. Together, the network will aim to transform Canada’s image-guided therapy sector into a global leader by integrating artificial intelligence and data advances into medical technologies that use imaging to diagnose, treat and monitor disease.
In addition to Sunnybrook, the partners include:
- Calavera Surgical Design, Toronto, ON
- Clarius Mobile Health, Burnaby, BC
- Conavi Medical, Toronto, ON
- Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS
- Flosonics Medical, Sudbury, ON
- Harmonic Medical Inc., Toronto, ON
- Hotchkiss Brain Institute, Calgary, AB
- Rogue Research, Montreal, QC
- Synaptive Medical, Toronto, ON
- Vector Institute/University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON
“Sunnybrook would like to thank the Government of Canada for this significant investment in image-guided therapeutics,” said Dr. Andy Smith, president and CEO of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. “For years, Sunnybrook, along with its partners, has been pioneering and commercializing ground-breaking work in this area.
“This important grant will help encourage further investment, inspire greater breakthroughs around the world, and elevate Canada’s artificial intelligence and image-guided therapy sectors.”
Unveiled at the announcement was the prototype Harmonic Medical Symphony, an MRI-guided clinical focused ultrasound system. The system can destroy fibroids noninvasively in about one hour during an outpatient procedure. It focuses ultrasound beams on the target lesion, and the beams heat up and destroy the lesion.
Upwards of 60 percent of women will develop uterine fibroids by the time they are 50 years old and for 20 percent of these women, symptoms will be so severe that treatment is required, most commonly surgical removal of the uterus. The Symphony requires no incisions and uses no radiation. It can help preserve fertility in a woman suffering from symptomatic fibroids.
The prototype has the highest element count of any high-intensity focused ultrasound system on the planet, giving women more treatment options and better outcomes. It was built entirely in-house, in Sunnybrook Research Institute’s Centre for Research in Image-Guided Therapeutics.
Dr. Kullervo Hynynen, director of Physical Sciences at Sunnybrook Research Institute, and project lead of the ICIGT, pioneered the technology, which led to the spinoff Harmonic Medical Inc. The Symphony will be tested in a clinical trial of 40 women. Uterine fibroids are the first of clinical indications the device aims to treat. Others will include cancers of the bone, liver and pancreas.