Patrick Wu is a Life Science Marketing Consultant based in Alberta. As we prepare to head to the annual BIO Convention, Patrick has prepared a couple of profiles of Alberta companies which will be at BIO in Philadelphia showcasing their products, and meeting with potential partners and investors.
If I asked you to think about words you associate with "Alberta," I bet many of you would probably not have picked "virology." But Alberta is home to some cutting-edge research in virology that could pave the way to all sorts of new therapies in the future.
The University of Alberta is home to the Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute (LKSAVI)
. The Institute supports early-stage life science research with funding and commercialization guidance.
"The services we render are customized to each research project," says Ana Clementin, Operations Manager at the LKSAVI. "We want to move them from a pre-startup phase and prepare them to meet with industry partners and investors."
One of the LKSAVI's projects focuses on a new way to treat human cytomegalovirus (CMV)
. CMV is a herpes-like virus that infects anywhere from 50-100% of the population, depending on geography. It is usually asymptomatic in healthy people but can cause major complications in immunocompromised patients and infants. It is especially problematic for patients who receive transplants.
"Current treatments for CMV can be toxic and may cause viral breakthrough," says James Nieman, Head of Chemistry at the LKSAVI. Viral breakthrough refers to the individual viruses that survive treatment. The more viruses that survive, the more likely they develop resistance.
Antimicrobial resistance is a major global problem
in modern healthcare. We are in a constant arms race with bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens that can evolve to become resistant to even our strongest drugs.
Resistant CMV has been noted in up to 17% of lung transplant and up to 6% in kidney transplant patients. This project aims to treat CMV with fewer side effects than current treatments and less risk for antiviral resistance.
LKSAVI in Philadelphia
The LKSAVI will be part of the Alberta delegation at this year's BIO International Convention
in Philadelphia. The goal is to gather interest and product feedback from industry partners and future investors. These connections will be important once the research is ready for further commercialization.
The CMV project above is one of three projects from the LKSAVI at BIO this year. Another project aims to better diagnose autoimmune hepatitis, where the body attacks its own liver cells. Autoimmune hepatitis currently has no good method beyond an invasive liver biopsy. The last project is an Alzheimer's treatment that is designed to avoid the toxicity issues found in existing treatments.
Be sure to keep an eye out for these exciting innovations in life science research!