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Home > About > News > Learn how Alberta is innovating in health & wellness
December 16, 2023
Alberta Innovates supports and highlights innovation across Alberta.
Here are ten of our favourite stories of health and wellness innovation from the last few years.
Good hand hygiene is critical in reducing hospital acquired infections. To encourage frequent use of alcohol-based rub dispensers, W21C researchers worked with the Emily Carr University of Art + Design to develop an innovative, low-cost system to collect and visualize data related to the use of alcohol-based rub dispensers.
The outcome was audiovisual technology that provided positive reinforcement for using dispensers. A hospital study indicated that 75 percent of those interviewed had increased awareness of hand hygiene, while 92 percent of participants agreed it was a helpful reminder for others.
The technology is scalable and culturally adaptable with its easy-to-install design that can make use of locally sourced parts and visualizations that can be modified to be culturally significant.
“Merging science with art and interactive design enables us to come up with out-of-the box solutions that could be implemented into clinical environments,” says Dr. John Conly, the principal investigator on the project.
Kinetisense has developed a range of motion capture software that enables health care practitioners to plan and monitor progress for treatment of the patient. The software is currently used by Chiropractors, Physiotherapists, Trainers, Massage Therapists, etc.
Kinetisense has created a proprietary motion capture engine that has been University validated to be one of the most accurate systems on the market. Kinetisense 360 adds the power of Artificial Intelligence to the already robust Kinetisense platform.
As the world’s first patented markerless motion capture analysis system, Kinetisense allows practitioners to engage with their patients and provide them real-time biofeedback for how they truly move.
The company is currently looking to build on its patent portfolio and continue to market their product around the globe.
Tevosol calls its device EVOSS (Ex-Vivo Organ Support System). The EVOSS device is currently in its prototype phase, but commercial products are in the process of being developed. Tevosol’s “warm perfusion machine” keeps organs alive by mimicking the living environment of the human body. Tevosol says its machines “preserve, assess, and reclaim donor organs for lifesaving transplants.”
Research is underway to use ex-vivo organ preservation to develop a device to improve heart availability for transplants by prolonging the time donor-organ hearts can be preserved outside the body. EVOSS has already revealed promising outcomes for lung preservation in a clinical trial, having made 12 successful lung transplants possible in 2019.
Tevosol Transplant Technologies won top spot at the prestigious NASA iTech Ignite the Night competition held in Tampa, Florida, in February 2020. In early October 2020, Tevosol showcased their technology at the NASA iTech Cycle I Forum.
Access to quality data is critical to ensuring the safety and efficacy of drug discovery, precision medicine and drug repurposing. DrugBank provides drug knowledge solutions to pharmaceutical researchers, health-care professionals, academic researchers, pharmacists and pharmacologists.
Today, DrugBank supports more than 12 million global users annually in 24+ countries, with 13 of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies relying on their data. It has contributed to more than 26,500 academic publications with more than $1.5 billion spent on research using DrugBank data.
“Our ultimate goal is to contribute to medical advancements, particularly in artificial intelligence for drug discovery and repurposing, and clinical solutions such as electronic medical records software, precision medicine and telemedicine,” says Michael Wilson, CEO.
DrugBank has accessed Alberta Innovates’ Technology Development Advisors Program since 2017. They currently receive an Alberta Innovates’ Commercialization Associates Grant (2019-2021).
Dr. Marc Curial and Chris Terriff, P.Eng. founded MACH32 to rapidly design and develop the Aerosol Containment Tent (ACT) to protect front-line healthcare personnel from infectious aerosols, including COVID-19. The ACT design creates a negative pressure zone around a patient’s head during critical airway procedures such as intubation and ventilation.
MACH32 says the ACT is the only portable patient-specific isolation on the market that enables clinicians to perform procedures while the patient is under negative pressure, providing an additional layer of protection to healthcare personnel. ACT provides equivalent or better protection at a fraction of the cost making it more accessible in the healthcare industry. The ACT device uses negative pressure and a HEPA filter to contain 99.97% of particles, rather than allowing the particles to escape into the surrounding environment.
Airway procedures are the most high-risk procedures for exposure to aerosolized COVID-19 particles,” says Dr. Curial.
As awareness grows about mental health issues in the workplace, so does the desire to provide tools to help address it. CNK Tech Inc. was formed to explore and address issues around mental health, burnout, and wellbeing in organizations and individuals. After creating an online platform to address the mental health of physicians, they realized other professions faced similar issues. They developed OrigamAi – a survey-based assessment tool that uses psychometrics, engagement metrics, and indicators to provide real time data about the mental health of people working or studying in any given environment. The tool comes equipped with customized reporting and analysis and provides actionable recommendations and support. This allows organizations and educational institutions to proactively monitor, measure, and manage stress and success.
“Ultimately, we help organizations thrive by providing the real-time data needed to develop healthier workplaces, more engaged teams, and happier people.” – Kyle McLeod, CEO
Facial plastic surgery has risks. The ability to visualize potential outcomes can significantly reduce those risks, benefiting the surgeon and the patient. After conducting an international research project that tested the extent to which genetic syndromes can be diagnosed from 3D images of human faces, David Katz founded Deep Surface AI, formerly known as AIndlit Medical Aesthetics Inc., in 2020. The company works with cosmetic surgeons to develop cosmetic surgery visualization and planning software that integrates patients’ aesthetic preferences with recommendations derived from statistical models of human variation, boosting the confidence in both the surgeon and patient. The goal is to improve facial plastic surgery outcomes by guiding choices through the quantification of biological variation in facial form.
David’s research involved training a machine-learning algorithm on a large database of 3D facial images and resulted in the creation of a high-resolution generative model of 3D facial shape.
Pacylex is an Edmonton-based pre-clinical trial stage pharmaceutical company developing a first-in-class, oral drug to selectively kill various types of cancer cells while leaving normal cells unharmed.
Four major haematological, or blood cancers, account for almost 10 percent of new cancer cases and deaths, including leukemia and lymphoma. There is an urgent need for new and effective treatments, especially for cases that do not respond to currently available therapies.
Pacylex is working to bring its new medicine to human clinical studies. In March of 2021, they received Health Canada approval for Phase 1 human clinical trials for its anti-cancer drug PCLX-001.
Pacylex is a part of Alberta Innovates’ Accelerating Innovations into CarE (AICE) program.
Every 20 seconds, someone loses a limb from ulcers. Calgary start-up, NanoTess Inc., wants to prevent this unnecessary suffering through technological innovation. With an initial focus on helping patients with chronic wounds, the company is commercializing a nanotechnology-enabled wound dressing to help those who suffer with diabetic foot ulcers. The dressing works to prevent infection and promote natural healing throughout a patient’s would care journey – a journey that is highly personal for co-founder Julian Mulia, who lost both his parents to chronic health issues. As Mulia and co-founder, Megan Leslie, move through the commercialization of their product, they will continue to maintain their patient-centric outlook, seeking to balance their bottom line against accessibility and affordability for the benefit of all stakeholders.
In November 2021, NanoTess won the inaugural REHAB i2c Pitch Competition held at the University of Calgary. They received $100,000 to assist with commercialization of their product.
From crowded waiting rooms to long waits on lab results, traditional lab testing and medical services come with their share of inefficiencies. Numi is a mobile medical service that provides a convenient alternative for healthcare consumers. Using the Numi app, patients can order a wide-variety of medical services such as on-site COVID-19 tests, vaccinations, sexual heath tests, and even IV nutrient therapy. After booking an appointment, a highly experienced medical professional travels directly to a patient’s location to administer a service or collect a medical sample. In the case of lab tests, results are delivered securely to the patient via a secure app. Numi currently operates in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Winnipeg, with plans to expand across the country and, eventually, into the United States.
While CEO Peter Verburg first thought of the idea for Numi in 2017, the company’s official launch in 2020 coincided with the pandemic and a rising demand for COVID-19 testing.