New labs to spin innovation into reality

February 3, 2022

New Alberta labs will soon see researchers collaborate with licensed and accredited medical and scientific staff to test new diagnostic technologies with an eye to bringing them to market faster.

APL collaboration to speed medical technologies to market

Story by Nicole Ouellet & Grady Semmens

CALGARY — A lab dedicated to helping Alberta innovators bring new medical technologies to market faster is being hailed as a welcome addition to Alberta Precision Laboratories’ Diagnostic and Scientific Centre (DSC).

Thanks to Government of Alberta support, it’s one of three laboratories that will be developed in facilities run by APL and DynaLIFE Medical Labs in Calgary and Edmonton where researchers can collaborate with licensed and accredited medical and scientific staff to test new diagnostic technologies.

“It’s fitting that this new program will be based at the DSC because this facility is home to work that happens every day at the intersection of academia, industry and healthcare — including the thousands of lab samples that come here for testing every day from across southern Alberta,” says Dr. Dylan Pillai, APL’s south sector medical director and a professor in the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine.

Pillai and Dr. Michael Mengel, medical director of APL’s north sector, are co-leads of the Alberta Diagnostics Ecosystem Platform for Translation (ADEPT) that will receive $3 million in funding over the next three years from Alberta Innovates’ Health Innovation Platform Partnerships (HIPP) program.

The ADEPT partnership will give Alberta’s innovators access to the data collection and controlled testing environments they need to turn their ideas into tools that can be used in real-world laboratories. This approach will ensure the diagnostic tools developed are aligned with the unique needs of Canada’s healthcare system — and that Alberta patients are the first to benefit from these new homegrown technologies.

“This investment will help entrepreneurs develop and commercialize new solutions and technologies to improve patient care and outcomes — all while creating jobs right here in Alberta,” said Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation Doug Schweitzer.

Dr. Mengel says the ADEPT program will make Alberta a national leader in advancing innovative laboratory testing for commercialization and patient care.

“Lab tests are crucial to most healthcare decisions, from diagnosing illness to developing treatment plans and ongoing monitoring of patients' health,” says Dr. Mengel, who is also a professor and chair of the department of laboratory medicine and pathology at the University of Alberta.

“Any improvements to laboratory medicine through innovation directly benefit patients through greater precision, more convenience and faster turnaround times for results,"

Dr. Pillai cites Alberta’s world-class COVID-19 testing program as a perfect example of how collaboration is critical to rapidly develop new products and services that can be deployed across the healthcare system.

“Our provincial testing program is led by APL, but has only been possible thanks to the ongoing collaboration between provincial and federal governments, the healthcare system, universities and private-sector partners such as DynaLIFE,” he adds.

“Building a mass-testing program for a virus that continues to evolve and present new challenges requires enormous effort behind the scenes to develop, test and implement new technologies and processes that meet the needs for managing the pandemic in our communities.”

Read more about projects that received funding in Stage 2 of the HIPP program.