Brain Canada FR

Moving discoveries from the lab towards real-world applications

By Brain Canada | Research stories
Dr. Tim Bardouille and Santosh Murthy analyze functional MEG data in the MEG lab located in the IWK Health Centre

MRI technician prepares a participant for an MRI scan

Canada has world-class neuroscience talent, leading to high-impact discovery research in brain science. However, turning leading science into the products that will affect the course of a patient’s health requires, in part, the existence of platforms capable of leveraging the impact of Canada’s world-class talent through commercialization of new therapeutic and diagnostic technologies. Imaging is, in many ways, a bridge between the diagnostic and therapeutic worlds.

The creation of new neuroimaging technologies can advance our understanding of the brain and improve the diagnosis of brain disorders, while the application of imaging to the study of novel therapeutics can provide critical information on the efficacy, mechanism of action, dosage and safety.
Whether the company is a large multinational or a small university- based start-up, obtaining access to leading-edge multimodal imaging technology and expertise is vital to advancing their technology down the regulatory pathway. For the small start-ups that dominate the neurotechnology space in Canada, this access must be cost-effective, since access to capital is a significant challenge.

This represents a hurdle, however, since imaging platforms and expertise are expensive to operate, yet full recovery of the costs of this research is a limiting factor for these small Canadian companies. BIOTIC is a hospital-based medical imaging research facility, explicitly mandated and structured to focus on the clinical and commercial translation of new neuroscience technologies.

BIOTIC’s platform achieves its goals by taking research-dedicated imaging equipment, locating it directly within academic health centres, and surrounding it with an integrated team of technical, scientific and business expertise that understands what it takes to partner with industry and launch a product to market.

BIOTIC is uniquely placed in Canada to play a catalytic role in helping companies and academics advance their technology. They can help companies get a foothold in the hospitals and try out their technology in a cost effective way within a rigorous scientific and ethical framework.

Although demand for additional partnerships with Canadian neuroscience companies exists, BIOTIC’s ability to further grow its capacity, and hence accelerate the commercialization of neuroscience, is currently limited by a lack of on-the-ground staff performing research coordination, and assistance.

This platform grant allowed the funding of an Industry Research Assistant, Industry Research Coordinator, and Industry Research Associate and provides BIOTIC with the capacity for growth in the number of companies that they are able to work with, while equally accelerating the rate at which they can complete industry partnered research, through dedicated research coordination and assistance. It allows companies to work with a partner who understands commercial timelines, milestones and deliverables that are needed and exist within a healthcare setting.

“ This platform support grant will really help us deliver on what is frankly the core mandate of our platform – to help companies in getting cost-effective access to expertise and technology that they need to move the technology forward.”

— Steven Beyea, Ph.D. Scientific Lead, BIOTIC