March 31, 2022
Vancouver, BC — Genome BC has funded several unique projects as part of a commitment to support innovation. This means the practical translation of ideas and research outcomes into new or improved products, services, processes, systems, or social interactions.
The Pilot Innovation Fund (PIF) fits into the landscape of programs offered by government(s) and others while matching the needs of the ‘omics ecosystem we support. The PIF aims to fund a diverse set of innovation projects with a credible probability of success. The projects being announced today include:
- Isolatrix: An Innovative Method for Single Cell Isolation Using Inkjet Printing led by Karen Cheung (University of British Columbia (UBC)), Adi Steif (UBC) and Marco Marra (BC Cancer). New methods for profiling the genetic diversity of individual cells are transforming our understanding of diseases like cancer. Current single cell genomic platforms present deficiencies in throughput, accuracy, and customizability that will be addressed in this project. The development and validation of key features of this technology will progress it towards commercialization.
- A DNA-based global positioning system led by Nozomu Yachie and Geoffrey Schiebinger both with UBC. This project will develop a scalable spatial gene expression technology, called GPS-seq. GPS-seq will have impacts in broad fields of research in the life sciences and will change the way we understand tissues. It will allow the development of numerous therapies and drugs and will trigger a shift in biology, similar to high-throughput deep sequencing and single-cell genomics technologies in the last decades.
- Fiber‐based approach to scalable single‐protein analysis led by Reuven Gordon (University of Victoria). The objective of this project is to innovate an optical fiber based approach to laser tweezers that can hold a single protein. This provides the ability to track single proteins in real time without labels and deliver insights into protein structure, function and single molecule interactions.
- Tope-seq: A high-throughput platform to discover and characterize T-cell receptor reactivity for advancing safe and effective immunotherapies led by Govinda Sharma, James Round, and Rob Holt (BC Cancer). This project will demonstrate the commercial potential of Tope-seq, a high-throughput platform that allows therapeutic T-cell receptor development to be faster, safer, and more effective.
- Breaking the blood group barrier for kidney transplantations led by Peter Rahfeld (ABOzymes), Caigan Du, Christopher Nguan, Jayachandran Kizhakkedathu and Stephen Withers (all from UBC). This project’s goal is the ongoing development of a novel process to convert blood group A kidney donor organs to universal blood group O, in a preclinical transplant model with the ultimate objective of meeting the global demand for kidney transplantation.
- Identification of the target sites of a new acaricide against the honey bee parasite, Varroa destructor led by Erika Plettner (SFU) and Leonard Foster (UBC). This project aims to discover the mode of actions of a new compound against Varroa, that does not visibly harm the bees and has no adverse effects in vertebrates, which is key to register with health authorities. In collaboration with researchers at UBC, this search will make use of proteomics tools to identify the molecular target. This study further advances the development of this new pesticide with the potential to be a gamechanger in the beekeeping industry to manage Varroamite infestations in bees.
One of the most unique components of the PIF is that each project team is assigned an industry mentor to support the team through hurdles to commercialization. These individuals bring experience and passion to their role and will add huge value to the teams through their journey.
“We’re excited about the quality of these projects,” said Federica Di Palma, Chief Scientific Officer and Vice President, Sectors at Genome BC. “Our goal is to deliver innovation on the road to commercialization to ultimately deliver social and economic benefits to British Columbians. I am confident that these teams will do just that.”