BioDiaspora, a start-up company based on the research of company founder, Dr. Kamran Khan of St. Michael’s Hospital, has identified two mass gatherings in the Islamic world as key possible spread points for the life-threatening MERS coronavirus, which emerged in the Middle East in early 2012.
BioDiaspora’s disease-tracking platform, which correlates uses global air traffic patterns to predict the international spread of infectious disease (as described in the original media release from St. Michael’s Hospital):
The first is umrah, a pilgrimage that can be performed at any time of year but is considered particularly auspicious during the month of Ramadan, which this year began on July 9 and ends on Aug. 7. The second is the hajj, a five-day pilgrimage required of all physically and financially able Muslims at least once in their life. It takes place Oct. 13 to 18 this year and is expected to draw more than 3 million people.
It also identified the Mumbai-India corridor as particularly vulnerable to MERS based on the predicted exit traffic of travelers leaving the hajj and returning to their home countries following the mass religious event.
Dr. Raphael (Rafi) Hofstein is president and CEO of MaRS Innovation (MI) – the commercialization agent for an exceptional research discovery pipeline stemming from 16 leading Ontario academic institutions. As a single entry point to annual member research and development activity of $1B, MI provides a gateway for investors and licensees who wish to access Ontario’s technology assets.
In my previous blog post during BIO2012, I talked about how MaRS Innovation and CQDM had jointly collaborated to form Encycle Therapeutics, a startup that was created around disruptive technology, developed by Professor Andrei Yudin of the University of Toronto, involving the cyclization of biologically active peptides.
A year later, I’m pleased to report that Encycle is alive and kicking. The company has since recruited seasoned management, and its developing product line is drawing tremendous interest from global pharmaceutical groups. In the next few months, we expect Encycle to raise significant capital and establish meaningful ties with strategic allies.
Taking a wider look at the life sciences sector, this has been a vintage year for Ontario in general and MaRS Innovation’s ecosystem in particular.
Nearly 14,000 delegates—representing over 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centres and related organizations across the United States and more than 60 countries—attended the 2013 BIO International Convention from April 22 to 26, 2013.
The event drew biotechnologists, pharmaceutical industry executives and life sciences researchers, along with sector-based organizations and associations, to Chicago.
According to a press release issued by the conference organizers, BIO 2013 offered “a record number of partnering meetings and panel sessions on the latest science, policy issues and business opportunities and challenges facing the biotechnology industry.”
Through this collaboration, MaRS Innovation and Pfizer will jointly identify investment opportunities emerging from well-validated scientific research discoveries within MaRS Innovation’s 16 member institutions, including the University of Toronto and its nine affiliated teaching hospitals.
“There’s growing consensus that transferring technologies from the university lab bench and into the market requires unique public-private partnerships,” said Dr. Raphael Hofstein, president and CEO of MaRS Innovation. “Partnering with MaRS Innovation gives Pfizer access to Toronto’s robust innovation pipeline and a close look at emerging IP from Canada. It signals both the strength and attractiveness of our commercialization model and Toronto-based research technologies to global industry players.”
“Our government is committed to making Ontario the best place to translate great ideas into innovative products that will gain demand around the world,” said the Honourable Reza Moridi, Ontario Minister of Research and Innovation. “Today’s announcement from MaRS Innovation is an exciting collaboration with Pfizer that will both advance healthcare technologies for Ontarians and help to strengthen our economy.”
The Toronto Star featured Khan’s research and BioDiaspora following the publication of his new paper in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization which assessed the impact of airport screenings in containing the 2009 H1N1 outbreak in Mexico.
“This isn’t necessarily an event that poses a significant risk to Canada, at least based on all the current knowledge,” said Dr. Kamran Khan, an infectious disease specialist at St. Michael’s Hospital and founder of BioDiaspora, a program that predicts the potential spread of outbreaks. “Even if a case were to find its way into Canada, the likelihood of it spreading locally is quite low.”
BioDiaspora collects data on everything from air travel and weather to global distribution of disease-carrying insects and uses this data to forecast the potential spread of new diseases.
Flybits’ Context-Aware and Intelligent Mobility Solutions on exhibitFeb. 25 to 28, Canadian Pavilion, Stand 7F50, Booth 14
TORONTO, Canada (Feb. 14, 2013) – Flybits, a start-up company that develops context-aware and intelligent mobility solutions, today announced that they will be exhibiting at Mobile World Congress 2013 to launch a revolutionary mobile product called Flybits LITE.
Flybits LITE, an innovative Platform as a Service (PaaS), enables the quick creation and deployment of context-aware mobile computing applications for enterprises without the dependency of dedicated infrastructure. This unified and scalable platform, which provides personalized and relevant content to mobile users, will be officially launched and showcased throughout the Mobile World Congress event.
Dr. Raphael Hofstein, president and CEO of MaRS Innovation, delivered a guest lecture on February 1,2013 at the Revitalizing Medical BioTechnology Commercialization symposium, hosted by Stanford University‘s NIH Graduate Training Program in Biotechnology.
The one-day event brought academic, venture capital and industry thought leaders together to reflect on the challenges facing technology transfer processes across the biotech industry.