From the onset of the pandemic, it was the science and innovation of the biotech sector which has demonstrated the enormous importance of biotech solutions. Similarly, climate change and population growth are other important areas needing biotech solutions. The biotech sector has shown its resiliency throughout the pandemic and is now poised for another leap forward. Investing more in enhancing this foundation will not only help meet the preparedness objective, but if done strategically, it can also generate and support early-stage companies in Canada.

We invite you to MEET BIONATION.

AbCellera

Investing in biotech talent. AbCellera is set to build a Good Manufacturing Practices 130,000 square-foot facility which will expand AbCellera’s capabilities in new antibody therapies to clinical trials, supporting Canada’s efforts to respond quickly and effectively to future pandemics and providing AbCellera’s partners with a full solution for accelerating their programs. This facility is within walking distance to the 380,000 square-foot headquarters. AbCellera is a powerhouse of the Canadian biotech industry, coming through strong throughout COVID and has now launched a hiring spree for hundreds of jobs. AbCellera is building a unique team of leaders deeply integrated with discovery and translational research, all focused on selecting and developing better therapeutics to go from antibody discovery to fill-finish in record time. Be part of this wave.

Medicago

The exile of the tobacco plant is over: tobacco plants have shown they can act as safe and speedy factories for producing pandemic flu vaccines. Medicago redeems the tobacco plant by using it as the basis for growing vaccines against the flu. The company grows virus-like particles that mimic the virus in the plants, which are then processed into vaccines. This process is currently one of the fastest methods for the production of vaccines. Start-to-finish manufacturing of an influenza vaccine can be done in as little as 14 days, compared to the six months it takes for the traditional manufacturing method in eggs. As a pioneer of plant-based transient expression and manufacturing, Medicago has always sought a more effective way to improve human health. With nearly 20 years of experience and wisdom behind them, Medicago is ready to disrupt the traditional approach to vaccines and therapeutics. Learn more.

Okanagan Specialty Fruits

It’s the darling of the fruit world. But the fruit touted for its ability to keep away doctors is also the fruit that bears the shame of too-often ending up half eaten and ignominiously tossed into the nearest wastebasket. For all its deliciousness, the ubiquitous apple has a problem – it turns brown within minutes of its delicate inner flesh being exposed to air or handled too roughly.

The technical name is enzymatic browning, and it can’t help itself. But Okanagan Specialty Fruits is a company saving the apple, along with other popular tree fruits using novel biotechnology to ensure the fruit remains wholesome, healthy, chemical free and non-browning. The Summerland, B.C. company has developed a clever and non-chemical way to silence the enzyme that causes browning (polyphenol oxidase or PPO), which is the first sign of fruit spoilage. When this gene is rendered ineffective, the apple – as with most tree fruit – simply skips the discolouration stage. Apples that don’t scuff or turn brown when exposed to the air are a slice of heaven for consumers and fruit producers. Time for a snack?

Soricimed

The cartoon looking northern short-tailed shrew, a mouse-like animal excretes a paralytic agent in its saliva. This paralyzing aspect allows the small mammal to subdue prey. Still alive, but unable to escape, the prey can be stored until the shrew is ready for a snack. When Dr. Jack Stewart was a biochemistry professor at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick he set out to study and decode the unique properties from the shrew’s saliva, ultimately synthesizing the paralyzing component. Originally thought to be a treatment for pain relief further research has opened up even more capabilities including cancer-fighting potential. The treatment works by targeting a calcium channel that exists only in cancer cells. Calcium fuels the growth of the cancerous cell. By capping the channel, Soricimed’s drug cuts off the calcium supply and, ultimately, helps kill the cell. And because normal cells lack the calcium channel, they are left unaffected. The company has also developed a blood test that detects early-stage cancers by identifying the presence of the calcium channel. Taming of the shrew spit.