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The Brain Repair Centre has awarded knowledge translation (KT) grants to three Dalhousie neuroscience researchers who are pioneering new technologies with major commercial potential.
These are the first grants the BRC has awarded through its new BRC-KT grant program, announced in 2012 to help researchers complete proof-of-principle, safety and other studies required to move innovations from the lab to the marketplace. Drs. Sultan Darvesh, Alan Fine and Ying Zhang are the recipients of the inaugural BRC-KT awards.

Dr. Sultan Darvesh, a neurologist at Capital Health and professor in Dalhousie’s Department of Medicine, has received a BRC-KT grant to advance his groundbreaking new technology for early diagnosis of Alzheimer Disease. There is no current means of definitively diagnosing Alzheimer while a person is still alive, yet such early diagnosis is the key to assessing new treatments designed to halt the progression of this disease. Dr. Darvesh and his collaborators have developed a radioactive molecule that binds with a key enzyme that’s defective in Alzheimer disease, opening the door to the possibility of detecting the disease at an early stage, using standard SPECT and PET imaging technologies. Dr. Darvesh currently holds six patents and is moving rapidly toward commercialization of this new diagnostic strategy. Click here to learn more about Dr. Darvesh's project.

Dr. Alan Fine, a professor in Dalhousie’s Department Physiology & Biophysics, has developed a type of lensless microscope that allows scientists and clinicians to examine living tissue at high resolution. With the BRC-KT grant, Dr. Fine and his team will explore the use of this inexpensive new technology to detect cancerous cells in the brain. These lensless microscopes could be used not only to diagnose brain cancers ‘in situ’ – avoiding the need for multiple and potentially risky needle biopsies – but also to guide neurosurgeons as they remove cancerous tissue from the brain. Dr. Fine and his collaborators have already entered into discussions with a number of major biotech firms on commercialization of this powerful and economically attractive new technology. Click here to learn more about Dr. Fine's project.

Dr. Ying Zhang, an assistant professor in Dalhousie’s Department of Medical Neurosciences, is spearheading a project to develop a more effective in vitro system to rapidly screen agents that could potentially be used to treat ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Unlike current high-throughput screening systems for ALS, this technology tests the ability of drugs to maintain or restore the connections between motor neurons and the muscle fibres that they activate. This reflects the discovery of Dr. Zhang’s close collaborator, Dr. Vic Rafuse, that preserving motor neurons themselves is not enough in ALS—the synaptic connections that allow motor neurons to innervate muscle must also be protected. The researchers already have an industrial partner who is eager to develop this technology with them, once they have completed proof-of-principle studies with support from the BRC-KT grant. Click here to learn more about Dr. Zhang's project.

 

 

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