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Home > About > News > Learn how Alberta innovates in health & wellness
December 21, 2023
Alberta Innovates supports and highlights innovation across Alberta.
Here are ten highlighted stories of health and wellness innovation from the last few years.
To diagnose a stroke, it often takes three steps. First there’s a CAT scan, then dye is injected in the blood stream to determine where the blockage is, and finally there is another injection of dye and a second scan to give enough detail to make decisions. Researchers at the University of Calgary developed a way to get the job done faster. Simple Perfusion Reconstruction Algorithm (SPIRAL) is an imaging technique that measures blood flow in the brain and identifies the location of the blockage more quickly. Andromeda Medical Imaging spun out of that research and is developing diagnostic software that includes SPIRAL. The company has created a graphical user interface that can be used by anyone to get information faster and make informed decisions.
AMI published a provisional patent on its SPIRAL technology in May 2021. They hope to get approval from Health Canada in 2022.
Progressive neurodegeneration is believed to be the main contributor to the progression of disability in multiple sclerosis (MS). Current medications don’t address neurodegeneration and are unable to stop the progression of the disease. Oxidative stress is a key driver of neurodegeneration and iron deposition in the brain is one of the causes of oxidative stress. AnthoBio has extracted natural compounds from hibiscus sabdariffa with potent antioxidant and neuroprotective properties. The compounds protected neurons against iron neurotoxicity and significantly reduced disease severity in animal testing. The company is working to harness the neuroprotective potential of plant-derived compounds to ultimately develop treatments for neurodegenerative conditions. AnthoBio was founded by doctors Wee Yong and Lin Tang to develop solutions based on research and get them to the public.
Wee was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee Year Medallion for his contributions to the MS community and has twice received the MS Society of Canada’s National Certificate of Merit.
The Canadian VIGOUR Centre supports research into improving cardiovascular health. Their wide-ranging activities help foster new discoveries in heart health.
Staff have helped produce more than 1000 publications regarding diagnosis, treatment, and other aspects of cardiovascular care.
A recent clinical trial they conducted dubbed VICTORIA, offers potential new treatments for chronic heart failure. It could also lead to further research into options for people with other, difficult-to-treat heart conditions.
In addition to the clinical trials they help manage directly, they also examine data and statistics from other sources to improve our understanding of cardiovascular health – everything from new insights into EKG results, to healthcare savings to new public health initiatives.
The team at the Canadian Vigour Centre use their expertise to help design and manage clinical trials to help researchers make new discoveries.
Meeting the needs of Albertans living with dementia is increasingly challenging. This is compounded by a shortage of health care aides who perform the majority of care for seniors in the province.
These conditions put people with dementia at risk and restrict their ability to remain in their communities or age in place.
Alberta-based Clinisys EMR has developed an innovative digital health technology that improves efficiencies for health care aides and their teams while enabling families to connect with their loved ones and access information related to their care.
Together with researchers from the U of A, Clinisys is working to enhance, implement and evaluate the Clinisys digital health solution. The project is also supported by the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation.
“Support from Alberta Innovates and CABHI has enabled collaboration between healthcare aid representatives, families of older adults receiving care, and the University of Alberta’s researchers.” – Mehadi Sayed, CEO
From the time he was a high school student, Jordan Engbers was interested in health. It led him to successfully apply for scholarships and training opportunities—including several Alberta Innovates’ early career development programs—and ultimately co-found Cohesic, a health-data analytics company.
Cohesic is a Calgary-based start-up that deploys an artificial intelligence platform to enhance and streamline cardiovascular care.
The platform automates some of the process involved in diagnostic testing, analysis, communicating results and tracking patients’ progress. The result is increased efficiency and reduced medical errors.
The platform also provides clinicians with greater insight into their patients’ health and allows large amounts of health data to be compiled for research.
Cohesic empower clinicians with actionable data so that they can make more informed diagnostic and therapeutic decisions.
Researchers at the University of Alberta joined forces to develop a handheld Lab-on-a-Chip (LOC) device for rapidly detecting COVID-19 antibodies. LOC technology involves the miniaturization and integration of components into small, portable devices that can carry out laboratory tests whenever and wherever needed. Alberta researchers are at the forefront of advancing LOC technology and applying it to the detection of different diseases.
The University of Alberta’s Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute (AVI), gives researchers the expertise and the tools to quickly translate their research into clinical application. More than 24 professors and their researchers, under the leadership of Dr. Michael Houghton and Dr. Lorne Tyrrell, have been able to advance their work through the University of Alberta’s Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute (AVI).
“The AVI at the U of A is a unique place. It’s very exciting for me to be working here because we’ve got so many new opportunities to explore,” says Dr. Michael Houghton. “It’s also been the hardest work I’ve ever done.”
In October 2020, Houghton and two other scientists were named winners of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their past work in discovering the hepatitis C virus (HCV).
Co-founded in 2007 by Ryan Arseneau, Joe Brunelle, and Corey Homick, Fidelity Machine & Mould Solutions offers machining, mould making, and engineering solutions.
Fidelity is tackling complex projects, large and small with a variety of clients in a number of sectors, including projects in the energy and aerospace sectors with international customers. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Fidelity and Orpyx Medical Technologies participated in an initiative to manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE) for Calgary health-care facilities.
The partnership drew on the companies’ expertise in the medical and manufacturing sectors to address the ongoing need for PPE. The result was shortened mask delivery times, producing 4.5 million certified medical masks, and a $60-million agreement with Alberta Health Services.
Since diversifying its business, Fidelity’s staff count has doubled from 45 to 90 with more being hired.
Stroke is the second leading cause of death globally, and accounts for approximately 4,500 hospital admissions annually in Alberta. When someone is experiencing a stroke, every second counts. Current tools for pre-hospital diagnosis of large vessel occlusions (LVO) stroke have low accuracy, leading to misdiagnosis and delays in receiving appropriate care.
Calgary’s Forest Devices has developed a pragmatic solution that could help save lives, called Alphastroke. The artificial intelligence-powered electroencephalography (EEG) device detects LVO stroke in patients exhibiting signs of stroke with an overall accuracy of above 80 percent.
Forest Devices Inc. is a part of Alberta Innovates’ Accelerating Innovations into CarE (AICE) program.
Illucidx offers ultra-sensitive, rapid diagnostic tools for the detection of pathogens, including near-patient malaria diagnostics and a cartridge-based COVID-19 test. Founded in 2020 by Cody Doolan, Illucidx can positively affect clinical and patient outcomes and enable broad access to these tools across the globe, particularly in resource-limited areas.
With a goal of developing tools for developed countries, the ultra-sensitive diagnostic options can then be realistically deployed in low and middle-income countries. This translates to tests that are robust, field deployable, and economically feasible. In late 2020, Illucidx joined the Alberta Board Testing Pilot Program in partnership with the provincial and federal governments, supplying the program with COVID-19 RT-LAMP tests to reduce the length of mandatory quarantine for returning travellers.
Doolan completed Innovate Calgary’s Life Science Fellowship program which provides experiential learning in research and development, commercialization, and start-up creation for life sciences entrepreneurs.