Over a year ago, the world turned its attention on the bioscience industry for guidance, information and action to navigate the COVID-19 global pandemic. While the pandemic is ongoing and the effects are still being felt, a lot has changed; we have numerous vaccines approved for use, treatments have been discovered and slowly but surely people can see the light at the end of the tunnel. This is in large part due to the collaboration between key players in the bioscience industry, many of which are in Manitoba, enabling ground-breaking work to be done.
With the spotlight shining so bright on the bioscience industry, it is clear that this sector is vital for the health security and economic growth of the entire global population. Manitoba’s bioscience industry alone contributed over $5.6 billion to the overall provincial GDP in 2019, ranking 4th among all industries for contributions. Coupled with the fact that there are 700 businesses and organizations, over 16,300 people employed and $10.4 billion in sales and revenues, Manitoba is leading our country, and the global community, into the future of bioscience1.
The Bioscience Association Manitoba (BAM) is a passionate advocate for the bioscience community, supporting members from agricultural, health and cleantech biotechnology. Since its inception, BAM has helped drive Manitoba’s bioscience industry to become diverse, highly educated, and expansive; because of this, many long-standing companies have reached or are near the product expansion stage. This puts Manitoba, and Canada, in the right place, at the right time, to support the needs of our global community.
At the heart of Manitoba’s bioscience industry, are the dedicated people and innovative companies that have pushed the envelope of what is possible. When the pandemic began, many organizations pivoted to adapt to the needs of others; because of this, they brought forward cutting-edge technologies and discoveries that have helped advance the global science community significantly.
Cerebra Health is focused on improving access and quality of diagnostic technology for the assessment of sleep and sleep disorders. They have brought to market a state-of-the art technology, developed by Dr. Magdy Younes, which revolutionizes how sleep is evaluated within both a lab and home setting.
Cubresa is a world leader in the design and development of clinical and preclinical PET inserts for MRI. They developed a small, lightweight and portable PET scanner, the NuPET Bio, specifically designed to be used in biocontainment facilities. The scanner can be decontaminated between studies, helping to minimize the spread of pathogens. With the NuPET Bio, Cubresa has supported the infectious disease community, as scientists work to better understand COVID-19 and develop effective treatments.
Emergent is a global life sciences company whose mission is to protect and enhance life through specialty products and contract development and manufacturing (CDMO) services. At the start of the pandemic, they made the conscious decision to support the global science community and began developing a potential treatment for patients hospitalized with COVID-19 that uses human immune globulin; this product is currently in phase 3 clinical trials.
Precision ADM is a global engineering and manufacturing solutions for the medical, aerospace, energy, and industrial sectors. Early on in the pandemic, Precision ADM recognized an urgent need for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and testing devices. With their existing capabilities, they were able to prototype, test and scale-up production of CANSWAB™ 3D-printed nasopharyngeal swabs. During the same time, they also developed Precision AIR™, which is a medical grade N95-level respirator mask designed for front-line heath care workers that can be reused. Additionally, they also invested in production lines for their VIRALOC™ mask products (disposable surgical procedure masks) and to date, have produced more than 2 million masks.
THE WINNIPEG VENTILATOR 2.0
When COVID-19 began, the need became clear: thousands of ventilators were needed to deliver life-saving support and there wasn’t a readily-available supply. Companies began looking for a solution and they found it in Dr. Madgy Younes, Cerebra’s scientific founder. He had created the original Winnipeg Ventilator, which was licensed and used as the basis for commercial ventilators throughout the 1990s and 2000s. The units were also used during the 2003 SARS epidemic. With a few still in his possession, he offered them as prototypes to support the modernization of these units in partnership with StarFish Medical.
As a result of this, the Winnipeg Ventilator 2.0 was developed and is a multi-mode ICU ventilator that can save lives, be manufactured locally in the shortest time possible and not disrupt the supply chain for existing ventilators.
It is thanks to companies like these, their teams and the communities they work in, that Manitoba, and Canada, is driving the future of the bioscience industry.
1 Bioscience Association Manitoba Industry Profile Survey Study 2021
Article provided by Bioscience Association Manitoba (BAM)