The opening of the Fraunhofer-McMaster Project Centre for Biomedical Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing (BEAM) in March 2018 is a game-changer for biomedical research
and commercialization in Hamilton. The 20,000-square-foot, $33-million facility at the McMaster Innovation Park brings to Hamilton the global prestige of the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology (IZI), a world leader in manufacturing cell therapies. It is only the second Fraunhofer partnership in Canada.
Biomedical companies are increasingly leveraging partnerships across Hamilton. McMaster University, the No. 1 Canadian university by corporate research partnerships, saw $480 million spent on public-private collaborative projects between 2013-2017.
BEAM researchers work with 35 industry partners to translate novel technologies
for the marketplace through validation, clinical trials, demonstration and manufacturing. Biotechnology companies like Fusion Pharmaceuticals will leverage BEAM to advance work new cancer treatments; biomarkers for cancer detection; point-of-care tests for rapid diagnosis of infectious and chronic disease; and biomaterials to aid in the treatment of disease.
The BEAM centre builds on the work being done at the McMaster Biointerfaces Institute, which has achieved global acclaim in leading cutting-edge research into eye treatments and cell therapy.
“McMaster has earned a global reputation as a research powerhouse – particularly in the health and life sciences. It’s a reputation built on the strength of our researchers, enhanced by our collaborations with our regional partners within the life sciences community, and perfectly embodied in the Synapse Life Science Consortium. In Hamilton, multifaceted teams of scientists are engineering breakthrough solutions to our most complex health challenges. Our clinical researchers are influencing the way health care is delivered the world over, while others are conducting scores of clinical trials to ensure the safety and efficacy of novel therapies and technologies.” —Rob Baker, Vice-President, Research, McMaster University
Breakthroughs in Infectious Disease
The Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR) is a global leader in trans-disciplinary research into infectious disease, including virology, immunology, bacterial pathogenesis, population biology and epidemiology.
IIDR’s 35 principal investigators and more than 300 researchers are focused on bridging the lab and marketplace and have been sought out globally to participate in hundreds of collaborations with private industry, research institutes, and hospitals, which have led to commercialization opportunities. IIDR research has become the “go-to” resource across North American for researchers working on antimicrobial resistance, vaccines, and drug discovery.
More than 200 patents and patent applications have been overseen by IIDR director Dr. Gerry Wright, a leading ground- breaking research into using fungi as new sources of antibiotics.
IIDR researchers are among the leaders in the global investigations into a universal flu vaccine and how to combat drug-resistant superbugs. Among IIDR breakthroughs is
an innovative test patch to detect harmful pathogens, such as E. coli or salmonella,
in consumer food, alerting consumers to potentially dangerous bacteria with the scan of a smartphone.
IIDR has an impressive track record of spinning intellectual property into commercial entities. Among the list of spin-out companies is Turnstone Biologics, Symbal Therapeutics, Triumvira Immunologics, Advanced Theranostics, InnovoGENE Biosciences and Adapsyn Bioscience.
A Living Lab on Aging
The GERAS Centre for Aging Research is a leader in fracture, frailty, dementia and end-of-life research.
Its Living Lab, and affiliation with world class geriatricians, research scientists, primary and community support healthcare professionals, allows for rapid and seamless product and innovation testing and evaluation in a real-world environment.
GERAS has worked with local, national and international firms on prototyping and first customer acquisition. The GERAS Centre is partnered with a Norwegian health technology company to pilot one of the world’s first “smart” hospital beds and assess its impact on patient care.
A Talent for Commercialization
To educate and attract the next generation of life sciences talent, McMaster University created the Biomedical Discovery and Commercialization. Led by Dr. Eric Brown, a worldwide leader in drug- resistance superbug research and discovery, the multidisciplinary hybrid bachelor-masters program combines discovery research, business acumen and health sciences.
Fusing Health & Business
Hamilton’s Fusion Pharmaceuticals, which develops treatments using medical isotopes to eradicate cancer cells, secured more than $59 million from global investors, and was named Ontario’s Life Sciences Company of the Year in 2018.
Built on the work of Dr. John Valliant, who founded the Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization (CPDC). CPDC has completed more than 50 radiopharmaceutical discovery, development, and manufacturing programs and brought more than a dozen products into clinical development.
“There is rapid growth among companies in this sector in Hamilton, and biotech companies are receiving funding,” said Valliant, Fusion’s CEO.
“There is so much highly innovative healthcare and life science work going on in Hamilton waiting to be taken to market. But the expertise and business environment for that is building. It’s not just about commercialization, but about patient impact. It takes significant backing to make that happen.”
Valliant says the work to coalesce a life sciences cluster in Hamilton, which builds on innovative, results-oriented research, will help the next wave of companies emerge and grow.
“We are nimble and fast in Hamilton and that’s a significant advantage. Hamilton has great people and great research and technology and is building its ecosystem based on that success. This is definitely the time for all this to happen in Hamilton.”
Adapsyn Bioscience applies next-generation bioinformatics to discover and develop novel biomolecules produced in nature.
A recent $162 million partnerships with Pfizer Inc. will accelerate the pharmaceutical giant’s drug discovery results. “They could go anywhere but they chose our technology. Using big data and analytics means we can find new medicines faster and at lower cost,” says Adapsyn’s founder, Dr. Magarvey.
“McMaster recognizes that it’s individuals who innovate and it enables that process. It allows great the great energy of researchers and entrepreneurs to make things happen. The University is rare in recognizing that.”