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$3M funding will fast track virology discoveries to market


Edmonton, AB – The University of Alberta’s Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute has received funding of $3 million from Western Economic Diversification Canada. The money is earmarked for commercialization efforts in transitioning research discoveries to the marketplace.

“This funding will enable University of Alberta researchers to accelerate the process from research discovery to commercial vaccine development,” said Lorne Babiuk, the university’s vice-president of research.

The university’s researchers have made advances in understanding viruses and discovered treatments for viruses such as hepatitis B and hepatitis C. For example, a research team led by Michael Houghton recently developed a vaccine that could fight all strains of hepatitis C, and Lorne Tyrrell and his colleagues are renowned for their work with an antiviral treatment for hepatitis B that is commonly used today.

“When Mr. Li made the donation to create the Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology, he emphasized the importance of translating discoveries to products that would help patients,” said Tyrrell, who is director of the Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology. “The federal investment of $3 million is critically important to establishing the Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute to translate and commercialize products as a result of discoveries made in virology.”

“This funding is very important to us and greatly facilitates our newly formed institute to gear up fast and to start translating our virology research innovations into the clinic for commercialization opportunities,” said Houghton, who is director of the Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute and a Canada Excellence Research Chair in Virology.

The funding will be used for purchase of equipment to conduct pre-commercialization activities for developing and testing new vaccines and therapies. The institute’s resources will increase the number of vaccines that are developed and commercialized in the Edmonton area, with the long-term goal of establishing a competitive virology cluster in Alberta.