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Alberta and Varian to collaborate on disease diagnosis research


Edmonton, AB – Alberta’s Magnetic Resonance Diagnostics Centre at the University of Alberta is getting a boost for continuing collaborative disease diagnosis research using the emerging science of metabolomics. The Alberta government and instrument manufacturerVarian are extending their research agreement to study metabolomic profiles associated with disease.

A memorandum of understanding was signed during a technology mission to China and California, led by Alberta’s Minister of Innovation and Science, Victor Doerksen. This agreement builds on a prior investment by the Alberta government and the University of Alberta to establish the Magnetic Resonance Diagnostic Centre.

The centre was created in 2004 to research diseases using the emerging science of metabolomics. (Metabolomics uses nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy applied to body fluids such as blood and urine to determine the flux of metabolites in the human body in response to systemic stresses that occur during illness or in reaction to drug intake.)

“This important collaboration demonstrates our commitment to explore new areas of metabolite research,” says Victor Doerksen, minister of innovation and science.

The centre is receiving $1.5 million in funding. The extension of this agreement continues the collaboration that began in 2004 between the Alberta government and Varian in funding the diagnostics centre. The Alberta government is contributing $400,000 and Varian is supporting the project with in-kind contributions, as well as leveraging its relationships with other industry partners to further the development of NMR spectroscopy with relation to metabolite research. The remaining project support will come from other industry and government partners.

“We are pleased to have been involved in the establishment of the MRDC, and our ongoing relationship symbolizes our commitment to explore new areas of disease research using NMR spectroscopy,” said Martin O’Donoghue, vice president of scientific instruments at Varian.

MRDC expects to generate revenues by providing testing to the Canadian market through a spin-off company, MRDC Inc. In addition to the commercial progress, the continuing success of the project has attracted new investment partners and top research talent to Alberta.