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New centre could save millions in health care dollars


Edmonton, AB – A new $2.6 million centre at the University of Alberta could potentially save the country’s health care system millions of dollars through a simple, cost effective diagnostic test. The Magnetic Resonance Diagnostic Centre (MRDC), the only one of its kind in North America, will provide access to non-invasive routine diagnosis for a host of diseases and will allow physicians to diagnose disease more quickly, monitor the health status of patients in hospitals and clinics, monitor drug effectiveness and determine drug compliance.

In a recent announcement of $350,000 in funding for the new centre, Alberta minister of innovation and science, Victor Doerksen, said "This is another example of the innovation that can happen when industry, government and universities work together. We’re proud to be a part of this leading edge initiative that will have such a positive, significant impact on the health care system as well as the lives of Albertans."

Gary Kachanoski, University of Alberta vice-president, research, called the centre an excellent example of government/industry/university partnering to invest in healthcare innovation. "This centre is poised to play a leading role in advancing the diagnostic process that will benefit both patients and the healthcare system", said Dr Kachanoski, adding that "the impact that the centre’s efficiencies will bring to everyone involved in healthcare will have far reaching effects throughout the system."

The MRDC will link physicians and basic scientists together in a large-scale program to find specific markers that differentiate normal from abnormal using simple human biofluids such as urine and blood as the basis for the test that employs proton magnetic resonance technology. The MRDC is linking innovative software from Chenomx (an Edmonton based U of A spinoff company) and an analytical nuclear magnetic resonance system from Varian of Palo Alto, CA, with U of A scientists and physicians to aid in the discovery of key markers for a number of diseases including asthma, pneumonia and cystic fibrosis. The MRDC aims to be the leader in the world for this kind of research that will potentially revolutionize the health care industry by decreasing costs due to faster diagnosis, better treatment monitoring as well as decreasing drug complications.

The MRDC is currently operating in its early stages under the University of Alberta Magnetic Resonance Diagnostic Group and should be fully organized and operational as MRDC by January 2005.