ARCHIVED - NRC and CIHR Join Forces to Advance Health Innovation

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May 04, 2004— Ottawa, Ontario

NRC and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) are working together to produce novel new technologies that promise major health-care benefits.

The NRC-CIHR partnership was established to encourage collaborations between NRC and academic researchers to explore leading edge developments in the converging technology fields of: nanomaterials and nanorobotics applied to health and regenerative medicine; biophotonics applied to health; and diagnostic imaging.

As part of the newly-created NRC/CIHR Science and Technology Convergence for Health Innovation Partnership, three new health research projects worth $3.1M were recently announced

Cell-Tissue Engineering

The field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine is evolving rapidly and promises to offer new alternatives for wound repair and organ replacement. It is based on the ability of living cells, with or without biomaterials, to be assembled as three-dimensional tissues.

Soft nanofabrication facility
Soft nanofabrication facility

Cell and tissue engineering combines chemistry, nanotechnology and materials science to study and control cell behaviour. Teodor Veres, leader of the Functional Nanomaterials Group at the NRC Industrial Materials Institute in Longueil, Quebec, and François Auger of Université Laval are leading a team of researchers in the development of a cell culturing platform used for the study of cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions. This platform is needed to better understand how surface topography and chemistry affect the interactions between material surfaces, the 3D extracellular matrix (ECM) environment and living cells. Understanding of this phenomena is key to developing improved cell-culturing systems and will provide useful information to cell and tissue engineering for clinical applications.

New Materials for Hip Replacement

Close to 40,000 joint-replacement procedures are performed in Canada each year and of those, about half are total hip replacements (Canadian Orthopaedic Society, 2002). The number is expected to go up as Canada's population ages.

Ben Luan, leader of the Shape Transfer Processes group the NRC Institute for Integrated Manufacturing Technologies in London and Cecil Rorabeck of the University of Western Ontario are collaborating to develop new materials and coating process for hip replacement. Hip implants are usually made of titanium or a cobalt-chrome alloy. Thus, corrosion and the loosening of the joint, generated by the wear of the implant, result in a short life span or frequent surgical repairs of implants.

This project proposes to develop a new technology for the design and fabrication of hip stems, incorporating two novel approaches: a new nanocomposite to improve biomechanical compatibility, and a new process for hydroxyapatite coating to enhance the biochemical compatibility. The integration of these two features is expected to produce a new hip prosthesis with improved biomedical performance, including extended life service.

Non-invasive imaging methods to detect major cardiac diseases

Heart disease, alongside cancer, remains the leading cause of death in Canada. Reduced blood flow to the heart, for example, due to blockage of one of the coronary arteries, leads to a condition called ischemia, in which oxygen delivery to the heart muscle is reduced. This reduced oxygen delivery results in damage to the muscle of the heart, a condition known as cardiac infarction or a heart attack. Non-invasive identification of ischemia and infarction is crucial for their diagnostics and treatment.

ResearcherA team of researchers from the Biosystems Group at the NRC Institute for Biodiagnostics in Winnipeg (Mike Jackson, Hong Tian and Jian Ye) and Valery Kupriyanov and Dr. Xi Yang of the University of Manitoba will compare non-invasive imaging methods, such as near-infrared (NIR), thermal, magnetic resonance (MR) and fluorescent/luminescent imaging, for the detection of ischemia and infarction in vivo. These methods will be assessed for their ability to determine varying degrees of blood flow deficit and cell damage in the heart. In addition the ability of bone marrow stem cells to repair damaged cardiac muscle will be evaluated using these imaging techniques.

The team hopes to develop new imaging methods for cardiac ischemia and infarction. These methods could advance the diagnostics and treatment for these diseases.

Enquiries: Media relations
National Research Council of Canada

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