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December 7, 2022

The Health Innovation Roundup, sponsored by Health Cities, is written and published weekly by Taproot Edmonton to bring you the latest news and events in research, technology, companies and people changing health for the better in Edmonton.

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Here are some highlights from this week’s Health Innovation Roundup:



  • An international team of researchers, including John Lewis of the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, has published findings on the discovery of a new clue for how and why cancer cells spread. “Our contribution to the work was to very precisely show that cancer cells change their gene expression when they encounter increased viscosity in the surrounding fluid and become more aggressive,” Lewis told Folio. “I would say we’re the world leaders in this type of imaging.”
  • A coup d’état in Burkina Faso has interrupted Phase 2 clinical trials of a COVID-19 vaccine developed by Entos Pharmaceuticals, which John Lewis founded and leads. Lewis told Folio the trial may be moved to Senegal, and the vaccine may also be tested in Canada as a booster shot.
  • Dr. Samina Ali, a pediatric emergency physician at the University of Alberta, is part of the team working on a newer model of the MEDi robot (Medicine and Engineering Designing Intelligence) introduced in 2017 to help young patients at the Stollery Children’s Hospital manage pain. Four Canadian universities and two in Scotland are working together on the AI, ethics, and healthcare applications of the robot. “The robot will do some facial recognition stuff, and work and speech recognition work to figure out how to react if the child is upset or not engaged,” Dr. Ali told CBC’s Edmonton AM.
  • Pacylex Pharmaceuticals published a piece in the International Business Times on how it managed to coordinate manufacturing and clinical trials of its PCLX-001 cancer treatment with team members in Canada and the United States working remotely. “What matters is not the infrastructure or being in the office every day,” said CEO Michael Weickert. “It is important to have a team of experienced professionals who know what they are doing and the right partners with industry experience. This model is definitely one that many startups can replicate successfully.”
  • Simon Urschel, a pediatric cardiologist and the clinical director of the heart transplant program at the Stollery Children’s Hospital, has been elected to sit as a director of the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation (ISHLT). The ISHLT is dedicated to research, education, and advocacy regarding end-stage heart and lung disease.
  • Pediatrics professor Lisa Hartling and nursing professor Shannon Scott have developed a series of videos and infographics to help parents navigate COVID-19 with their children. The resources include information on vaccinating children against the virus and re-socializing children as they return to more activities. “One of the challenges this time around has been that the science is evolving, and I think parents’ concerns are evolving, too,” says Hartling. “Even what we heard from parents last fall is a bit different from when we talked to our parent advisory group this fall.” The tools are available on the ECHO website as well as at Translating Emergency Knowledge for Kids, which Hartling and Scott co-direct.
  • A nationwide science fair that creates opportunities for the best and brightest young minds in science, technology, engineering and math across Canada is coming to Edmonton in May 2023. The top 1% of STEM scholars are invited to take part in the annual Canada-Wide Science Fair (CWSF) based on the quality of their projects. University of Alberta graduate Pierre-Philippe Ouimet is returning as a visiting scholar and chief judge for the CWSF and looks forward to judging alongside U of A faculty members and alumni. “We need highly qualified judges because these are extraordinarily bright and capable young people producing top-tier work,” Ouimet told Folio. “These students are the future. They are the people who will continue current STEM research and carry it into the next century.”
  • The Covenant Foundation has kicked off its fundraising campaign to raise $2.6 million for a state-of-the-art emergency room at the Misericordia Hospital. The campaign has received over $1.6 million in donations for the nearly completed replacement of the existing emergency department built in 1969. “Extensive work is happening behind the scenes to create new processes and workflows that will benefit patient flow and efficiencies,” said Jo Ann Malloy, senior operating officer at the Misericordia. “So not only will the new Misericordia emergency department provide more space to work, it will allow us to be more innovative in how we work.”
  • A new designated supportive living facility with 162 new living spaces has opened in west Edmonton. The $45-million Shasta Care Community offers additional support for those with dementia. “These new designated supportive living spaces enable residents to continue leading healthy, active lives while receiving dedicated and personalized care,” said Eleanor Risling of Continuing Care with Alberta Health Services. “Wellness is at the core of the care plan, with a focus on an individual’s care needs.”



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