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by Peter Moreira
Two Halifax medtech companies, ABK Biomedical and Densitas, will travel to San Francisco next month to take part in the Dose of the Valley – a mentoring and networking event for Canadian life sciences companies.
The Bay Area is renowned as the global hotbed for information technology startups, and for years Canadian IT companies have been attending 48 Hours in the Valley – an event that helps Canadian startups benefit from resources in the area.
Last year the Canadian Commission in San Francisco and C100 (a group that helps Canadian startups make connections in Silicon Valley) began Dose of the Valley for the biopharma, medical device and health IT sectors. ABK and Densitas have been selected for the event Feb. 9 and 10.
CTA Offers Wealth of Mentorship in Boston
“It’s kind of nice that we’ve been selected as one of the medtech companies from across Canada,” said ABK Chief Executive Bob Abraham. “It gives us a chance to meet with partners from across the United States. … My understanding is the event itself is attracting a large number of multinationals who want to see what Canadians are up to.”
His counterpart at Densitas, CEO Mohamed Abdolell, said Dose of the Valley would be a “power networking” event where there would be intense meetings not only with mentors but also investors, opinion leaders, industry partners and potential acquirers.
Most of the medical-technology companies in Atlantic Canada tend to seek mentorship in the life sciences community in Boston due to proximity. But Abdolell said Silicon Valley is a hotbed of health-related IT, especially in terms of data analytics. These are big parts of Densitas’ business so the 48 hours in California will be especially beneficial.
ABK is the developer of OccluSystem, which improves efficiency and safety when treating women for uterine fibroids, or benign tumours, in the uterus. The system uses tiny bio-compatible glass beads to help monitor the deterioration of the tumours following procedures that are designed to eradicate the growths.
The company is now preparing to make its 510(K) submission in the U.S. in the next few months. This is the filing that the Food and Drug Administration requires to establish that a medical device is safe. ABK is also preparing for ISO Certification, which is required to complete regulatory approvals in the European Union, Canada and the U.S. Abraham said the company expects to have a product on the market in 2017.
ABK last raised funding in 2014 through the First Angel Network and Wilmington Investor Network in North Carolina. The company hopes to raise venture capital investment this year.
Densitas last month received regulatory clearance in the European Union and Canada to sell its first product, DM-Density, which enhances breast screening by assessing breast density. Breast density is a key determinant in a patient’s risk of contracting breast cancer, so Densitas helps doctors understand a patient’s risk profile.
Scott Moffitt, the managing director of the Nova Scotia life sciences association BioNova, said the fact these two companies were selected for the event shows the quality of medtech companies being developed on the East Coast.
“It really gives some credibility to the type of companies we’re generating in this part of the world,” he said. “The selection process is a competitive one so it lends credence to our belief in what we’re doing here. It shows that the companies are complex and that they’re strong from the business perspective.”
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Densitas density measures provide an alternative to clinical risk factors in predicting cancer risk
HALIFAX, Nova Scotia – January 22, 2016 – The British Journal of Radiology this week published a study on risk factors used to evaluate a woman’s risk of breast cancer at the time of imaging. The study looked at the use of breast density measurements exclusively versus traditional clinical risk factors such as age, family history, and menopausal status. The density measures were collected using DM-Research, a research tool from Densitas that provides accurate and objective breast density measurements from for presentation mammography images.
“Digital imaging generates massive quantities of valuable information, but much of it is overlooked,” said Dr. Sian Iles, Section Head of Breast Imaging at the IWK Health Centre, and associate professor of Radiology at Dalhousie University. “We wanted to explore whether precise and standardized breast density assessments using a fully-automated algorithm [Densitas’ DM-Research] would fare well in determining breast cancer risk in comparison with traditional risk factors.”
It has been established that high mammographic density and traditional clinical risk factors are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. However, collecting large volumes of traditional risk factor data for individualized cancer risk prediction can be burdensome because of subject recall bias and subjectivity. To investigate the contribution of percent density and area-based density as predictors, the research team from the Nova Scotia Health Authority designed a study that linked historical for presentation images with historical clinical data. The study found the density measures generated from DM-Research to be significantly better predictors of breast cancer risk than traditional factors.
“Because DM-Research processes the same for presentation images that radiologists view for clinical use, researchers can use images routinely stored on PACS,” said Mohamed Abdolell, CEO of Densitas. “This gives researchers the means to conduct retrospective studies with previously collected data, rather than having to prospectively wait to observe clinical outcomes that could take many years to occur.”
Densitas is the only vendor that offers a solution for automated breast density assessment that processes for presentation images. The study is available to read online at http://bit.ly/1JZFUAa.
Densitas Inc. is an ISO 13485-certified software medical device company. Densitas develops data-driven solutions that address the clinical and administrative requirements of hospitals and radiology clinics and healthcare providers. Densitas’ vision is to be the recognized leader in transforming the untapped massive volumes of data generated in the breast imaging enterprise into actionable information to advance improved clinical outcomes and appropriateness of care. Densitas is focused on providing solutions for personalized breast health care for women and appropriate use of healthcare resources.
For more information, visit www.densitas.ca or connect with us on Twitter @Densitas or LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/company/densitas-inc-).
PhotoDynamic Inc. (PDI) is a testament to the ever pivoting start-up. Originally developed as an agri-tech plant extraction company named Fenol Farm Inc., the business quickly morphed into a bacteria killing natural health product company, targeting oral bacteria and the oral hygiene market. The extent of the pivoting led the business to change the company name in November 2014 to better reflect the market and industry they compete in.
Now firmly planted in the life sciences industry, PDI is focused on providing Orthodontists tools to combat oral hygiene related tooth decay. Teeth fitted with braces are tough to clean, and worse, bacteria that collect around them cause permanent damage and lead to unsightly white spot lesions. PDI’s technology allows orthodontists to fit braces and send patients home with a medical device and natural paste that kills all the bacteria around the brace brackets and completely eliminates the damage caused by bacteria.
PDI’s C0-founder, Dr. Sherri McFarland has been developing synthetic compounds to kill cancer cells for nearly a decade as a chemistry professor at Acadia University. These same compounds are effective antibiotics, and her discovery of a natural source of similar compounds led her to investigate their anti bacterial properties.
Now PDI’s proprietary natural plant extract, provides the activity for their natural oral hygiene product. Aft er two years of research and pivoting towards the Orthodontic market, PDI is gearing up for its first human safety study and is planning to launch its first product in September 2016. As we strive for the perfect smile and healthy teeth, PDI is positioning itself to be a critical tool for perfection. Let’s all smile for PDIs continued success.
Every year cleaning up heavy metals from the industrial contamination of water costs businesses upwards of $700 million. NB-BioMatrix, a New Brunswick based cleantech company is hoping to change that with the launch of their first product, a biodegradable, anti-bacterial liquid that can remove heavy metals and other pollutants from waste water.
The Saint John company founded by CEO Jeff Jennings and Chief Science Officer Keith Brunt began with an idea to build a sustainable company using Keith’s background in nanotechnology to solve major health issues. As heavy metals are dangerous to human health when they accumulate in the body and current filtration systems are costly and challenging their remediation product was a perfect fit.
After the company was incorporated and key strategies were outlined they sought out financial backing to get through the research and development phase of their business. In the fall of 2014 they applied to the BioInnovation Challenge hoping to win a prize package that included $15,000 in seed funding and an advisory services package worth more than $30,000 to give them the boost they needed to advance their business.
As part of the process they were immersed in pitch training to prepare them for the panel of judges that they would face in the competition and the future investors that they would meet. They invented, they pitched, and they conquered as their nano-technology liquid filter was deemed the most attractive for investment by a panel of judges dubbed The Commercialization Council and the conference audience.
Through the competition they were able to use the funding to hire co-op students and kick their productivity into high gear. They also leveraged their new achievement to boost credibility with other investors, partners and the entrepreneurial community. In early 2015 NB-BioMatrix was also a finalist in the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation’s ‘BreakThru’ competition. Today they have hired staff in critical positions and are looking for their first office and manufacturing locations to commercialize their product.
Meet Dr. Kirumira. Saving lives through affordable rapid diagnostics.
Many cash-strapped clinics in developing countries cannot afford traditional automated diagnostics labs. Rapid diagnostic technology has taken the guess work out of healthcare in poor regions. It is a life-saving tool for physicians that before could only rely on physical examination for diagnosis.
|Name:||Dr. Abdullah K. Kirumira|
|Title:||Chairman and Technical Director at BioMedica Diagnostics|
|Adjunct Professor of Biochemistry at Acadia University, Nova Scotia|
|Expertise:||Rapid Medical Diagnostics, Medical Devices, Clinical Research, Commercialization|
|Background:||Biotechnology, Pharmaceuticals, Health Care|
I am most passionate about… Affordable Medical Diagnostic technologies for the poorest of the poor. Many cash-strapped clinics in developing countries cannot afford traditional automated diagnostics labs. At BioMedica Diagnostics, we use some of the proceeds from the sales of QuikCoag™, a series of blood coagulation testing reagents used to diagnose “lifestyle-diseases” of rich countries, like clotting disorders, and heart disease, along with surplus, underutilized, smaller and affordable diagnostic-equipment to create inexpensive portable diagnostic-minilabs. It’s my mission to help save lives in remote areas where access to healthcare is difficult.
What do you wish the public would know about your field? Access to accurate diagnosis could cut unnecessary mortality rates by as much as 25% in developing regions such as Africa.
I am most proud about… Applying innovative biotechnology to link the Medical Diagnostic needs of developed and developing communities. I am proud of the products that have resulted from my research in the past 20 years and the impact they have had on healthcare in the third world. Medmira Rapid HIV Test has made HIV diagnosis accessible even to remote villages in developing countries, giving test results in 2-3 minutes.
Biggest misconception about biotech is… that it’s all about DNA recombinant technology. It really is about the impact. The combination of Biology, Chemistry and Engineering has brought tremendous impact on healthcare and agriculture. Rapid diagnostic technology has taken the guess work out of healthcare in poor regions. The technology is a life-saving tool for physicians that before could only rely on physical examination for diagnosis.
To someone just starting in biotech I would say… Pursue your passion. It is a versatile area with applications in most disciplines key to global economic development (Medicine, Energy, Agriculture, Microelectronics, Defence and Environment Protection, among others). If you are a newcomer to Canada, use the education and training opportunities available to you, to give back to your country of origin. The ability to give back has been a very fulfilling experience for me.
What’s the best part about working in biotech? Coming up with innovations that impact global human-health and economic well-being. Biotechnology has had tremendous impact on healthcare and agriculture. We now have the capability to cure diseases that we weren’t able to cure before. Farmers can cultivate high-yielding crop in arid areas where agriculture was not possible.
Most-admired scientist: Imhotep (2890 BC.) Father of Medicine in Ancient Egypt who was worshipped by the Greeks and Romans for his brilliance and medical discoveries.
Favorite pastimes: Tennis.
Favorite Book: “World’s Great Men of Colour” by J.A Rogers.
Favorite destination: Uganda.