Proving the Concept, Spanning the Spectrum

PRESS RELEASE - For Immediate Release

November 5, 2012

Proving the Concept, Spanning the Spectrum

Vancouver, BC Genome BC is pleased to announce a new round of translational research projects as a result of funding through its Proof-of-Concept (POC) program. The POC program represents a total investment of $8.7M with $2.15M directly from Genome BC. These investments are increasingly being recognized for expanding the diversity of research applications and for growing the vibrant genomics-based community in BC.

The projects funded in this round span several sectors, from salmon viruses to substance abuse research:

     SFU researcher Andrew Bennet’s project, The Development of Therapeutic Agents to Combat Infectious Salmon Anemia Virus (ISAV), aims to develop and test therapies to combat this disease in salmon. ISAV has devastated the health of Atlantic salmon and affected the salmon fishing industries of eastern Canada, the United States, Scotland and Norway. There is presently no vaccine or therapy for ISAV and the hope is that this project will be able to offer some agents to combat the disease.

     Robin Coope of Canada’s Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre and Robert Meek of VGH and UBC's Department of Orthopaedic Surgery have been funded to develop Minimally Invasive Curved Intramedullary Pelvic Fixation. This technology will offer a new method of stabilizing fractures using faster and less invasive procedures. A commercial partner has already licensed the technology.

     UBC researcher Carl Hansen is leading the way to develop new methods for the rapid selection of monoclonal antibodies - proteins generated in the immune response that are capable of specifically binding nearly any target molecule. This project, entitled Pre-commercial Development of Single-cell Monoclonal Antibody Selection, offers both practical and fundamental advantages over existing approaches with many industrial applications including therapeutics, diagnostics and basic research.

     Stephen Withers, also of UBC, is leading a project entitled Novel Influenza Neuraminidase Inhibitors Development of Orally Bioavailable Agents with Reduced Propensity for Resistance, which hopes to develop new antivirals for influenza strains that are resistant to current therapies. More than one million people die of influenza every year, and another 1.3 billion more are infected, making this project of keen interest to government health regulatory authorities looking to provide alternate treatment strategies for seasonal and pandemic influenza.

     The project New Peptide Therapeutic for Treatment of Addiction, led by Yu Tian Wang and Anthony Phillips of UBC, addresses the urgent need for effective addiction medications. Currently, there are no approved therapies for many types of addictions such as methamphetamine or cocaine addiction. The project aims to position a promising peptide target that could lead to a potential addiction therapy. The therapy would not directly target drug receptors, but rather targets the association and learning mechanisms underlying relapse to addictive behaviors. If successful, the project could make significant inroads in combatting the above forms of addiction and perhaps other additions such as gambling and smoking.

The Proof-of-Concept program provides funding to help BC-based researchers move their work from the lab forward into the marketplace. It is fostering development of new and novel products and services to the point that they are ready for licensing, industry investment or spin-off.

“The Proof-of-Concept program provides a valuable opportunity for receptor engagement, in particular industry. This program compels the research community to work hand in hand with end users,” says Dr. Alan Winter, President and CEO of Genome BC. “Genome BC is committed to fulfilling our mandate of facilitating the advancement of genomics based discoveries from innovation through to practical applications.”

Genome BCs competitive and peer-reviewed Proof of Concept program has ongoing opportunities for funding. Please see our website for details: www.genome.bc/poc


About Genome British Columbia:

Genome British Columbia is a catalyst for the life sciences cluster on Canada’s West Coast, and manages a cumulative portfolio of over $550M in research projects and science and technology platforms. Working with governments, academia and industry across sectors such as forestry, fisheries, agriculture, environment, bioenergy, mining and human health, the goal of the organization is to generate social and economic benefits for British Columbia and Canada.


Jennifer Boon

Communications Specialist, Genome BC Cell: 778-327-8374