Genomics Blog

February 20, 2015 9:26 AM
Getting to Know Your Body - the Metabolomic Way
It all started with basic metabolomics research led by Dr. David Wishart at the University of Alberta. Wishart's work has become known worldwide and led to the establishment of The Metabolomics Innovation Centre in Edmonton.
Now that basic research is being spun-off into the commercial space through companies like OMx Personal Health Analytics which works closely with TMIC. The company's promise to help "know your body" is part of the growing desire by people to make better decisions about their health by having more accurate information about what is going on inside their bodies.
With a test that measures more than 120 metabolomic indicators OMx has made it possible to really get to know how your body is functioning.
Freelance broadcaster and journalist Don Hill visited OMx and talked about the disruptive science of metabolomics with Michael Wilson, one of the company's founders.

Give it a listen
and let us know what you think about a more personal approach to our health and health care.

February 28, 2015 5:37 PM
“Personalized medicine” renamed “precision medicine”

Most people around the world were happy about U.S. President Obama’s announcement of his Precision Medicine Initiative. But more than a few were also a wee bit confused. Precision Medicine, what the heck is that?  

It’s a new term for the concept previously called Personalized Medicine. The new term is just a bit more, um, precise, although the concept is still heavily personalized.

Confused yet? That’s perfectly understandable.

Think of it this way: precision medicine is an expansion of personalized medicine.

Previously personalized medicine was largely thought of in terms of matching medication choices to a person’s own DNA for maximum effect. Side effects and adverse reactions are also diminished this way.

It was a matter of personalizing the medicine choices, be they traditional medicines or new genetic-based drugs, to each patient. There are lots of articles here at GenomeAlberta if you want to learn more about the approach. You might want to start with my earlier post “The Great “We vs Me” Personalized Medicine Debate.

Despite the many advances in personalized medicine, it didn’t always translate well at the patient level for a multitude of reasons, many of which I explained earlier in another post “Gene Patents, Physician Mistakes, and Other Mishaps Shaping Personalized Medicine Outcomes.”

I’m happy to report a few of those issues are being addressed now but, unfortunately, others are still hanging around fouling things up. And, of course, a few new challenges appeared on the scene too. You’ll find information on those (as well as few suggestions on how we might address them) in another post titled “From Precision Medicine Springs Need for Data Diagnosticians and Formulary Eradication.

Precision medicine takes into account a bit more than the term personalized medicine originally meant. Precision medicine is defined as an approach considering “individual differences in people’s genes, environments, and lifestyles,” or at least that’s how President Obama explains it. No one is quibbling about it because, yes, it’s important to consider the patient’s environment and lifestyle in the personalized medicine formula too! 

February 26, 2015 11:06 AM
From Precision Medicine Springs Need for Data Diagnosticians and Formulary Eradication

Big data expert Pam Baker says that for precision medicine to work, a new "data diagnostician" specialty will be needed—and formularies must be eradicated.

Precision medicine, aka personalized medicine, got a hefty boost when President Obama recently announced his US$215 million Precision Medicine Initiative. He called it “one of the greatest opportunities for new medical breakthroughs that we have ever seen,” and indeed it is. While there were many who applauded the Initiative, some proceeded with hand-wringing over the excitement outpacing the science.

But no, the science is there. It’s in full-bloom in some areas and budding in others, but it is there. What’s missing are the new professionals—data diagnosticians—needed to make it useable throughout the existing healthcare system; a major restructuring of public healthcare goals; and, the eradication or vast expansion of private and public insurer drug formularies.

Here is what needs to happen next for precision medicine to come to fruition in patient care.
February 23, 2015 10:15 AM
Calgary-based research moves out of Facchini lab and into the marketplace
Filed Under: News Releases | 0 Comments
Media Release, Calgary, February 23, 2015 – Epimeron Inc. (“Epimeron”), a Calgary-based biotechnology company, today announced that it has licensed certain of its proprietary technologies to a US-based company.  The terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Epimeron President and CEO Dr. Joseph Tucker stated, “We are pleased with the validation of our technology and business approach that entering into this agreement affords.”  Dr. Tucker continued, “Epimeron’s success in closing this deal, which we envisage being the first of many, was facilitated by our partners at Genome Alberta and Innovate Calgary.  Their willingness to work with us to fund and optimally structure Epimeron right from the outset was pivotal in enabling the Company’s achievements to date.”
Epimeron’s technologies were developed by a team of researchers at the University of Calgary, led by Dr. Peter Facchini.  “Epimeron’s U.S. licensing partnership validates the world-class quality of technology and expertise that is originating from our research labs,” said Dr. Ed McCauley, VP Research, University of Calgary. “Congratulations to Epimeron, Dr. Facchini and his team on a successful transaction.”
February 22, 2015 10:07 AM
In support of the scientific method
Filed Under: Gerry Ward | 0 Comments
A couple of days ago, I was casually monitoring my Twitter stream. I was following the occasional link, but in general I felt that I was wasting time and that I had better close it down and get on with something productive. Then, like a bolt of lightning, I was struck by the following tweet:

A middle school teacher says he is going to drop the scientific method from science fair. What do you think?

I had two immediate thoughts: good luck to any of his students entering the regional science fairs I’m familiar with; and I’ve written several blogs on this topic in the past. I’ll link back to one of those to make my thoughts known.

And so I did.

To be fair though, I thought I had better take a closer look at what was bothering this middle school teacher.
February 19, 2015 2:18 PM
Ripening Research for BC Wine
Filed Under: News Releases | 0 Comments
Media Release, February 18, 2015 – Four new innovative research projects have been funded through Genome BC’s Strategic Opportunities Fund (SOF). The SOF program, with funding provided by Genome BC and several partners, aims to catalyze new projects and initiatives of strategic importance to BC’s economic sectors.

Grapevine (
Vitis vinifera) is one of the most widely cultivated fruit crops. The BC grape and wine industry is steadily increasing, growing from 17 wineries in 1990 to about 273 today, and BC wines are widely recognized for their high quality. Nevertheless, in some areas unfavourable seasons can limit fruit maturation making the production of premium wines challenging.