ARCHIVED - New lab links life sciences players
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January 08, 2008— Ottawa, Ontario
Nova Scotia's life sciences sector will soon get a big boost when a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) research facility, located at the Izaak Walton Killam (IWK) Health Centre in Halifax, opens this year. The Biomedical MRI Research Lab (BMRL) is the second MRI facility to be established in Halifax by NRC, following the Neuroimaging Research Lab that opened at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in 2003.
Created through a partnership between the IWK Health Centre and two local NRC institutes — with additional funding from the Province of Nova Scotia and the Canada Foundation for Innovation — the new $5 million facility will help advance the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders as well as the development of new therapeutic drugs.
"BMRL, with NRC's presence, positions Halifax among the leading magnetic resonance imaging centres in Canada — and will help support the creation of life sciences or biotech companies, increasing investment in the region."
Denise Lalanne, NRC
The Biomedical MRI Research Lab will focus primarily on studies involving cellular/molecular imaging and drug development and delivery. By harnessing new imaging techniques developed by the Atlantic laboratory of the NRC Institute for Biodiagnostics (NRC-IBD), local researchers will be able to study the movement of drugs in vivo (inside the body), as well as immunological responses and molecular changes that occur at the cellular level.
The state-of-the art lab is strategically located to take advantage of an existing community of neuroscientists, chemists, immunologists, virologists and clinician researchers in the Halifax area. Users will include not only scientists from NRC-IBD (Atlantic), the NRC Institute for Marine Biosciences (NRC-IMB), and the IWK Health Centre, but also Dalhousie University and the Capital District Health Authority.
|NRC's Ahmed Khwaja inspects equipment in the new Biomedical MRI Research Lab.|
"The BMRL, along with NRC's presence, positions Halifax among the leading magnetic resonance imaging centres in Canada — and will help support the creation of life sciences or biotech companies, increasing investment in the region," says Denise Lalanne, the business development officer for NRC-IBD (Atlantic). "More and more, companies want to use MRI on animal models so they can tell whether the drugs they're giving them actually do what they're supposed to do, and whether they impact anything else in the body that they're not supposed to," she adds.
To address this need, "the BMRL will incorporate techniques for creating MR-visible markers that we can tag to cells or molecules to make them stand out," says Dr. Ryan D'Arcy, who leads the NRC-IBD (Atlantic) facility. "This means you can do things like watch stem cells as they migrate towards their target, follow inflammation cells as they move toward the site of an injury, or label a therapeutic compound to see whether it can cross the blood-brain barrier."
The BMRL initiative was conceived in 2004 when NRC and the IWK Health Centre joined forces to submit a proposal to the Canadian Foundation for Innovation's Research Hospital Fund. Both NRC institutes provided MRI technology and expertise, while the IWK Health Centre allocated space for the new facility.
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National Research Council of Canada
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