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

This event was generously supported by Swedish Orphan Biovitrum (Sobi).

See below for details on the 2022 Innovation Showcase.

2022 Panelists

Vyas Ramanan, PhDPrincipal, Third Rock Ventures
Ann Schlesinger, PhDDirector, External Science & Partnering, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research
Vineeta Agarwala, MD, PhDGeneral Partner, Andreessen Horowitz
James Hardiman, MBAPartner, Data Collective (DCVC)
Shobha Parthasarathi, PhDVP, External Innovation and New Ventures, Xontogeny
Andres Tellez, PhDSr. Director, NewCo Development, Johnson & Johnson Innovation - JJDC

2022 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

Lisa Strug, PhD

Senior Scientist, Genetics and Genome Biology
Associate Director, The Centre for Applied Genomics

Johanna Rommens, PhD

Senior Scientist Emeritus, Genetics and Genome Biology

Cystic Fibrosis (CF) and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) remain significant unmet medical needs worldwide and although there are drugs against the CFTR ion channel, there are no therapeutics available for individuals with minimal function mutations. Drs. Strug and Rommens are leading the way in deciphering the role of SLC26A9, a novel chloride ion transporter they discovered, as a disease modifier and potential therapeutic target in CF and COPD. The team is working to identify and develop novel modulators of SLC26A9 to provide effective treatment options for all CF and COPD patients, irrespective of their CFTR mutation status.

Xi Huang, PhD

Senior Scientist, Developmental and Stem Cell Biology
Canada Research Chair in Cancer Biophysics

Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common and aggressive brain tumor, and the current standard-of-care chemotherapy drug is responsive in only 50% of patients, with toxic side effects, and an increase of survival by just 2 months. Dr. Xi Huang, a Senior Scientist at SickKids, has led his research group in uncovering a novel peptide therapeutic that can effectively stop tumor growth and shrink tumor size, all while sparing healthy cells. This designer peptide can be seamlessly implemented into the current treatment workflow and has the tumor-targeting specificity required to make it a better tolerated chemotherapy replacement for GBM patients.

P. Lynne Howell, PhD

Senior Scientist, Molecular Medicine
Canada Research Chair in Structural Biology

Bacteria and fungi colonize surfaces on implanted medical devices in multicellular communities called biofilms, and these post-implant infections are associated with $9.8 billion annually in additional medical costs in the US alone. With the rise of antibiotic resistance, novel therapies are needed to address these infections. The Howell lab has identified a set of natural enzymes that degrade biofilms, and shown that immobilizing the enzymes onto a number of different materials commonly found in medical devices can both prevent the formation of biofilms while potentiating the activity of traditional antibiotics. Using these enzymes as tools for targeting biofilm formation and antimicrobial resistance offers a novel and unique solution to a billion-dollar problem.

Jean-Philippe Julien, PhD

Senior Scientist, Molecular Medicine
Associate Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Immunology, University of Toronto
Canada Research Chair in Structural Immunology

Brian Barber, PhD

Professor Emeritus, Department of Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto

Protein subunit vaccines generally require adjuvants to sufficiently stimulate the immune system and initiate the production of protective neutralizing antibodies. To circumvent the reliance on adjuvants Dr. Brian Barber pioneered an approach where foreign protein antigens are “targeted” to relevant immune cells via an antibody recognizing specific immune cells and other helper T-cell targeting sequences. In collaboration with Dr. Jean-Philippe Julien, they have validated the platform in the context of SARS-CoV-2 infection. This platform holds dual potential both in circumventing the reliance on adjuvants and allowing the rapid design and deployment of novel vaccine antigens against emergent diseases.

WITHDRAWN – HAS BEEN RECENTLY PARNETERED 

MedTech

Adam Shlien, PhD, FCCMG

Senior Scientist, Genetics and Genome Biology
Canada Research Chair in Childhood Cancer Genomics

Harnessing the diagnostic advantages of RNA, the Shlien lab at SickKids has developed a suite of Machine Learning (ML)-driven tools to transform the traditional tissue-biopsy based cancer pathology workflow through: 1) RNA-based (transcriptional) tumor classifier; and 2) RNAmp, a next-generation biomarker analysis test based on tumor specific transcriptional output that predicts survival and response to immunotherapy. SickKids researchers envisage a “next generation digital oncology workflow” in which RNA sequence-based assays are done early in the diagnostic workflow, either to supplement or replace the traditional biopsy-based pathology work. This platform harnesses the diagnostic advantages of RNA and allows for the rapid, accurate and early diagnosis of cancer, transforming the area of precision cancer treatment planning.

Cynthia Hawkins, MD, PhD, FRCPC

Neuropathologist
Medical Director of Translational Molecular Pathology, Division of Pathology
Senior Scientist, Cell Biology, The Arthur and Sonia Labatt Brain Tumour Research Centre

Brain tumours are currently the leading cause of death amongst childhood cancers, and while non-invasive liquid biopsy tools have been validated for some cancers in adults, no such tests exist for brain cancers for any population. The Hawkins group has designed and validated a panel of biomarkers tested against CSF samples acquired using minimally invasive methods, showing that it can detect glioma point mutations and fusions with both high specificity and sensitivity. The group aims to validate this panel in additional brain cancers, populations (adolescent, young adults, and adults), and as a tool for residual disease monitoring, providing an all-in-one, unparalleled solution for brain cancer diagnostics.

Jason T. Maynes, MD, PhD

Chief, Anesthesia and Pain Medicine
Curtis Joseph and Harold Groves Chair in Anesthesia and Pain Medicine
Associate Chief of Perioperative Services
Research Scientist, Molecular Medicine

Yu Sun, PhD

Professor, Canada Research Chair in Micro and Nano Engineering Systems
Director, University of Toronto Robotics Institute

Current preclinical models used to test cardiotoxicity poorly predict how or why a drug candidate may affect heart function. Accurate evaluation of a compound’s effect on cardiomyocyte activity early in the discovery process will reduce late-phase or post-market drug attrition – saving time, reducing drug development costs, and improving patient safety. SickKids clinician researcher Dr. Jason Maynes and his collaborator Dr. Yu Sun at the University of Toronto have developed a high-throughput in vitro cardiotoxicity assay platform that integrates machine learning algorithms to quantify drug candidate cardiotoxicity and provide insight into potential mechanisms and intracellular targets. MATCH has the potential to raise the industry standard for in vitro cardiotoxicity screening.

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