Lab Canada

Medical testing project develops new bedside devices for clinical research

Toronto, ON – The University of Toronto’s BioOptics: Transformative Technologies for Life Sciences Project, which was recently awarded a $7.8 million grant through the Research Excellence program of the Ontario Research Fund, has formed a commercial agreement to develop the technology with laboratory instrument maker Axela Biosensors. The project involves developing novel devices that will enable medical testing and treatment at a patient’s bedside.

University of Toronto department of physics and chemistry professors RJ Dwayne Miller and Cynthia Goh and their teams will base these devices on a newly developed laser technology to diagnose and treat disease. The instrument platforms will detect trace amounts of specific proteins and other biological molecules in cells, observe how they interact with each other, and determine what factors lead to expression of certain proteins and disease states.

“In the long term, our understanding of the detailed mechanisms underlying cellular functions is what will drive our ability to repair or prevent disease,” said Dr Miller. “The suite of technology platforms being developed under this grant will offer unprecedented new techniques of seeing what is going on inside cells. There is knowledge that exists in advanced research labs in the university that has traditionally taken far too long to reach end users and start making an impact. By focusing on commercialization and company partnerships from the start, the goal is to get our discoveries out into the real world on a much shorter time scale.”

Discussing the point-of-care diagnostics aspect of the project, Dr Miller noted that “when patient samples have to be sent out to a clinical lab for testing, the cost per test can be quite high and the turn-around time can be several days which delays diagnosis. The ability to perform bedside testing results in better, faster and lower-cost healthcare, and that’s one of the advances we can offer, through our partnership with Axela, a company with a proven track record of successfully commercializing academic discoveries.”