The Short Report – Jan 27, 2021: Clinical trials for first made-in-Canada vaccine begin; a first-of-its-kind carbon capture cement study launches in Edmonton, and more.

Cindy Graham
January 27, 2021


A major international trial led by the Montreal Heart Institute has concluded that a common oral anti-inflammatory drug—colchicine—can be used to treat COVID-19, reducing hospitalizations by 25%, the need for mechanical ventilation by 50% and deaths by 44%.The study found that prescribing colchicine to patients could help alleviate the problems of hospital congestion and reduce healthcare costs in Canada and around the world. – MIH

Toronto-based Providence Therapeutics has begun dosing volunteers in human clinical trials of its COVID-19 vaccine, the first fully made-in-Canada COVID vaccine to reach this stage of development. – Providence Therapeutics

Clinical studies co-led by Dr. Ewan Goligher and Dr. Patrick Lawler at Toronto’s University Health Network show full dose blood thinners decrease the need for life support and improve outcomes in moderately ill hospitalized COVID-19 patients, and could reduce pressure in intensive care units around the world. Clinical studies started last May, involving 1300 patients in more than 300 hospitals on five continents. – UHN

The McGill University Health Centre Foundation and medical technology consortium MEDTEQ+ are partnering with My Intelligent Machines and CellCarta (formerly known as Caprion-HistoGeneX) – both of Montreal – to use artificial intelligence (AI) to improve survival rates of patients diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer. – McGill Reporter

The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction and Health Canada are investing $1.8 million in non-therapeutic cannabis research and the impacts of legalization on public health and safety in Canada. The funding will support 19 projects ranging from cannabis legalization and mental health to a comparison of legal versus illicit cannabis sales. – CCSA

Epilepsy Canada (Toronto) and CURE Epilepsy (Chicago) formed an alliance to accelerate the pace of epilepsy research in North America and increase chances of finding a cure. CURE Epilepsy has raised more than USD $78 million  in epilepsy research since 1998; Epilepsy Canada more than CDN $4.3 million since 2010. – Epilepsy Canada


The Canadian government is directing $162.6 million to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency over the next five years and $40 million per year on an ongoing basis to increase and improve inspection, surveillance and oversight programs affecting Canada’s agricultural and natural resources. – GoC

Calgary-based ATB Ventures, the R&D division of ATB Financial, has announced plans to build, invest and partner with technologies that focus on digital identity and remove bias from artificial intelligence in Alberta. – ATB Ventures

Protein Industries Canada (Regina), Enterprise Machine Intelligence & Learning Initiative (Winnipeg), STEM outreach charity Actua (Ottawa) and Agriculture in the Classroom Canada are investing $2 million over the next three years to educate youth from Kindergarten to Grade 12 on career opportunities available in the plant-protein, agrifood and digital agriculture sectors. The program will be delivered by post-secondary students in Actua’s network across the prairies. – Protein Industries Canada

Next Generation Manufacturing is awarding more than $27 million to winners of its Strategic Supply Challenge competition. Projects were based on critical pandemic needs and supplies identified by the federal government as well as the long-term viability of manufacturing the products in Canada. – Financial Post

The Government of Canada is providing $1 million through its Northern Contaminants Program for new projects focused on environmental and community-based monitoring and research; health research; and capacity, communications and outreach activities. This will also include projects addressing knowledge gaps related to plastic pollution in Canada's Northern and Arctic regions. The deadline for applications is February 15. GoC

A study looking at the viability of capturing C02 from cement plant flue gas is being carried out by Edmonton’s Lehigh Cement Plant, the International CCS Knowledge Centre, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Group, the first of its kind for the cement industry in North America. – CSS Knowledge Centre

The Canadian government is investing $5.3 million to protect the endangered North Atlantic right whale from entanglement in fishing gear and collisions with vessels.The Canadian Space Agency, in collaboration with Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Transport Canada, will contribute $4.1 million and $1.2 million respectively through the smartWhales program to leverage satellite data to track movements in Canadian waters. – GoC

The Hannin Creek Education and Applied Research Centre, a partnership between Saskatchewan Polytechnic and the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation, has been recognized by the United Nations for addressing UN sustainable development goal #15: to protect, restore and promote the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems. – Prince Albert Now

Toronto pharmaceutical company DRI Capital, owned by Vancouver’s Behzad Khosrowshahi, has launched a $400-million IPO drive in tech, biotech and healthcare companies. – Globe and Mail


The newly released Council of Canadian Academies’ expert panel report says Canada’s rising number of PhD holders are a significant untapped resource, but persistent barriers in applying their skills make it difficult for them to put their skills to work—a missed opportunity to bolster Canada’s economy.  – CCA


The Canadian Institute for Advanced Research has appointed 29 new international researchers as CIFAR artificial intelligence chairs in a wide range of areas, including AI for health, climate change and responsible AI .The AI Chairs program is a key component of the $125-million pan-Canadian AI strategy. A full list of the new appointees can be found here. – CIFAR

Senator Stan Kutcher and Professor Timothy Caulfield have started a social media movement to stop the spread of misinformation around COVID-19. The #ScienceUpFirst initiative is a collaboration with the Canadian Association of Science Centres, COVID-19 Resources Canada, and the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta. – Global News

Natalia Martin Orozco has been promoted to chief development officer at Providence Therapeutics, a biotech company that is developing a made-in-Canada COVID-19 vaccine, while Piyush Patel is the new chief medical officer. – Providence Therapeutics

Other News

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