Coming Again Soon in Spring 2022

The SickKids Innovation Showcase will be an annual event that celebrates the most advanced health and life sciences ideas from the labs of SickKids researchers. Get unparalleled access to emerging therapeutic and diagnostic technologies with high potential for market disruption and impact.

See below for the panelists and technologies featured in the 2021 SickKids Innovation Showcase

Panelists

Jacki Jenuth, PhDPartner | Lumira Ventures

Deborah Palestrant, PhD, MBAPartner, Head of 4:59 | 5AM Ventures

Allyson Tighe, MBACo-Founder and Investor | Amplitude Ventures

Matthew ClanceyDirector, Corporate Development & Licensing | Labcorp

Wouter Meuleman, PhD, MBAPartner | Illumina Ventures

Shobha Parthasarathi, PhDVP, External Innovation & New Ventures | Xontogeny

Technologies

A sneak peek of each of our highlighted technologies. Registered attendees will also receive our Showcase Pitch Book – a non-confidential brief for each of these technologies.

Biopharma

Lynne Howell

P. Lynne Howell, PhD

Senior Scientist, Molecular Medicine

Novel therapeutic compositions for degrading bacterial and fungal biofilms

Bacteria and fungal colonies produce a protective coating barrier called a biofilm, which makes it difficult for traditional antibiotics to penetrate the organisms. Dr. Lynne Howell is a Senior Scientist in the Molecular Medicine program at SickKids, and her team is focused on understanding how these biofilms are formed. In collaboration with the Sheppard lab at McGill University, they discovered a group of natural enzymes that break down biofilms to enhance the effectiveness of traditional antibiotics. These enzymes are easily manufactured, stable, and non-toxic, and can be used as anti-infectives for pulmonary diseases like cystic fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In addition, the enzymes can prevent colonies from attaching to device surfaces such as catheters and implantable devices, decreasing the probability of infection. In vivo, these enzymes have increased the antibiotic effectiveness for wound infections, and their use to prevent biofilm formation on surfaces in vitro and in vivo are underway.

Roman Melnyk

Roman Melnyk, PhD

Senior Scientist, Molecular Medicine

A potent tumor-targeted RAS biotherapeutic for cancer

Dr. Roman Melnyk has brought his industry experience from Merck & Co. to his role as a Senior Scientist at SickKids. The Melnyk lab has developed a novel intracellular delivery platform that is capable of transporting a wide range of protein-based cargo into cells, including an enzyme that specifically cleaves RAS oncoproteins. Nearly one in every three human cancers are driven by mutational activation of one of the three RAS isoforms: KRAS, NRAS and HRAS. Despite being one of the most highly coveted target families in cancer biology for the past three decades, RAS has proven to be virtually undruggable. Dr. Melnyk and collaborators have developed a therapeutic that targets all oncogenic mutants and isoforms of Ras; the modular design of the platform allows for targeting specifically to receptors enriched on different tumors. In vivo work in animal models has demonstrated drug penetration into xenografts and inhibition of tumour growth, exemplifying a successful intracellular delivery platform and a novel therapy for several currently untreatable cancers

Christopher Pearson, PhD

Senior Scientist, Genetics & Genome Biology

Methods of treating trinucleotide repeat expansion diseases

Dr. Christopher Pearson is a Senior Scientist at SickKids with over 25 years of research in molecular genetics. The Pearson lab works on rare conditions that are caused by unnatural slips and loops in the DNA, such as Huntington’s disease, ALS, and 40+ other neurodegenerative diseases. In affected patients, these loops expand in size as the patient ages and eventually this results in the onset of disease. The Pearson lab has discovered a small molecule that binds selectively to the loop preventing size increase, forming the basis for a therapeutic platform. In the lab, the research team was able to successfully reduce the repeat expansions in the brain of a Huntington’s disease mouse model, as well as in cells extracted from tissues of individuals affected by Huntington’s disease with no off-target effects.

Martin Post

Martin Post, PhD

Senior Scientist, Translational Medicine

Engineered human alveolar-like macrophages as a cell therapy for respiratory diseases

Currently, there are inadequate therapeutic options for major respiratory diseases caused by prolonged inflammation leading to tissue damage and infection. Regenerative medicine for lung diseases has largely focused on the lung tissue lining, but the lung immune system has often been overlooked in approaches to disease treatment. The most abundant cell population in the lung airways are the alveolar macrophages (AM), which are part of the innate immune system and play a critical role in inflammation clearance. Dr. Martin Post, a Senior Scientist in the Translational Medicine program at SickKids leads his research group with the focus on lung-related development. The Post team has generated human alveolar-like macrophages (hALMs) from stem cells as a cell therapy for lung diseases including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and bacterial infections due to cystic fibrosis, which may mitigate disease severity and progression. hALM introduction in rodent studies showed lung specificity and did not elicit an immune response. These engineered hALMs also have the ability to express various factors including IL-10 and provide a non-immunogenic method to replenish alveolar macrophage populations in individuals with compromised lung immune systems.

Diagnostics & Research Tools

Robert Hamilton

Robert Hamilton, MD

Staff Cardiologist

Senior Associate Scientist, Translational Medicine

Highly sensitive diagnostic tests for the prevention of sudden cardiac death

Sudden Cardiac Death (SCD) causes more years of potential life lost than any other non-cancer disorder. The diagnosis of some SCD disorders, including Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (ARVC) and Brugada Syndrome (BrS), is difficult and expensive using current clinical assessments, and after complete workup 2/3 of ARVC patients still go undiagnosed. Dr. Robert Hamilton, a clinician scientist at SickKids, led the team that identified and developed accurate but simple tests that detect more than 98% of ARVC and BrS cases to inform treatment and prevention of SCD. These blood/saliva-based tests detect autoantibodies with high sensitivity and specificity, offering an accurate, cost-effective, and accessible diagnostic solution to all demographics vulnerable to SCD.

Jason Maynes

Jason Maynes, PhD/MD

Chief, Anesthesia and Pain Medicine

Scientist, Molecular Medicine

MATCH: Machine learning algorithms for toxicity and cardiac health

Current drug discovery and animal models of cardiac function do not accurately predict cardiac activity or toxicity, resulting in the failure of 30% of drug candidates in development, market removal of 16% of approved drugs, and as a result, the loss of billions of drug development dollars. To identify cardiotoxic compounds earlier in the drug discovery continuum, Dr. Jason Maynes, the Director of Research for Anesthesia and Pain Medicine and a Staff Anesthesiologist at SickKids, has led a team in the development of a machine-learning based platform called MATCH. MATCH incorporates multiple gold-standard tests of cardiac function into a unified, predictive report, and has proven its utility in existing preclinical drug discovery programs to efficiently identify the cardiotoxicity profile of investigational drugs.

Adam Shlien

Adam Shlien, PhD

Associate Director, Translation Genetics

Department of Paediatric Laboratory Medicine​

Uri Tabori

Uri Tabori, MD

Staff Physician, Haematology/Oncology​

Senior Scientist, Genetics & Genome Biology​

Machine learning-driven NGS-based diagnostic tests to optimize clinical response in oncology

Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) is proving to be an invaluable asset in the fight against cancer. First-generation analysis of tumor mutational burden (TMB) through NGS has improved the utility of therapeutic agents such as immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) in certain tumor types. However, TMB fails to accurately identify the ideal target patient population in numerous other cancers. Further leveraging NGS, SickKids researchers, Dr. Adam Shlien, an Associate Director of Translation Genetics in the Department of Paediatric Laboratory Medicine at SickKids, and Dr. Uri Tabori, a paediatric oncologist and principal investigator at The Arthur and Sonia Labatt Brain Tumour Research Centre, have developed a next generation complex biomarker analysis based on tumor-specific transcriptional output, called RNAmp. Through analysis of 10,000 patient samples with their proprietary machine learning algorithm, tumors identified with increased transcriptional output were found to express more mutations, which is a hallmark for improved ICI response. From preliminary clinical testing on more than 100 patients, RNAmp is a better prognostic indicator of ICI response as compared to TMB. RNAmp, combined with other diagnostic tests, such as genomic hyper mutant analysis, MSI, SNV, MMRD and POLE signatures developed at SickKids, provides a company creation/investment opportunity with a unique position in the industry.

Ryan Yuen, PhD

Scientist, Genetics & Genome Biology

Assistant Professor, Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto

Whole-genome detection and interpretation of repeat expansions in autism and related disorders

Advancements in genome analysis have greatly improved gene discovery and clinical diagnosis for many human diseases, with genome sequencing becoming the current standard. While genome-sequencing data has enabled the identification of all classes of genetic variation, there are still difficulties in resolving genetic changes in more complex disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Despite over 100 genetic factors identified as being associated with ASD, the underlying genetic cause of 80% of all ASD is still unknown. 6% of the human genome is comprised of tandem repetitive DNA, and certain repeats have been associated with ~40% of ASD cases. Dr. Ryan Yuen, a Scientist in Genetics & Genome Biology (GGB) at SickKids, and Dr. Stephen Scherer, a Senior Scientist in GGB and Director of The Centre for Applied Genomics at SickKids, have led their teams in determining the impact of tandem repeats on the genetic risk of developing ASD. They have developed a method to detect tandem repeats allowing identification of gene candidates involved in ASD, which can be applied to other complex genetic disorders. From an analysis of clinical data of more than 17,000 samples and controls, this method provides a more sensitive approach in capturing ASD diagnoses that would be otherwise missed using current standards.

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