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What Are Canadian Scientists Up To? A Look at Ongoing Research Initiative

It seems like every day there is a new breakthrough that pushes humankind to the next level. Whether in regard to public health, technology, vaccines or agriculture, Canada's leading scientists and researchers are continuously innovating and improving the quality of life for all. 

Curious as to what scientists are working on these days ? Here are 5 research programs currently underway in Canada. 

1- AI for Precision Discovery of Associations in Biological Systems 

The associations between complex human diseases (phenotypes) and underlying genetic variations, is the question that drives a great deal of research in life sciences. 

The University of Toronto is working on a project that uses AI technologies to aid in identifying genetic phenotype associations as precisely as possible. The reason this is so important is that genotype and phenotype associations can provide new insights into understanding disease mechanisms. With a more comprehensive understanding, comes a more attainable solution.

Scientists hope that once it becomes clear which part of human genetic variations negatively interact to cause disease, CRISPR technology can be used to modify, completely replace, potentially reduce, or irradiate some diseases. 

2- Advanced Materials Research Facility (Clean Energy Hub)

The National Research Council of Canada has opened a facility in Mississauga that will (1) support research in new materials that can be used for clean energy, (2) support companies and governments in coming up with a plan on how to transition these materials into industrial use and (3) be used as a space for companies, government, and universities to collaborate on projects aimed at developing clean technologies and advanced materials. 

This center aims to help Canada advance towards their clean energy agenda, and with a $57 million dollar research program, it is certain to make an impact.

3- Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics Program 

The Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics Program is working towards developing new and improved vaccines that will help fight and prevent bacterial and viral infections, treat cancer and fight against other chronic diseases. The program specifically focuses on developing vaccines that target the needs of adults and the aging population who are suffering from cancer and infections. 

The program has experts who specialize in immunomodulation and bioprocessing allowing the Canadian vaccine industry to make advances in adjuvants, biomarkers, and vaccine production. Such programs show the urgency and dedication to developing vaccines that can help fight against cancers and other serious illnesses, infections and diseases. 

4- Therapeutics Beyond Brain Barrier Program

The Therapeutics Beyond Brain Barriers (TBBB) program is working with Canadian and international partners to overcome the blood brain barrier, which prevents nearly all medicines from entering the brain. The blood-brain barrier has been the biggest hurdle to overcome in finding a cure for brain cancers, Alzheimer's, and other diseases related to the central nervous system. 

Scientists and researchers are working towards a solution which entails sending carrier molecules that are capable of getting past the blood-brain barrier, to transport therapeutics to the central nervous system, which will attack and potentially cure such brain illnesses mentioned above. Once proof of mechanism is achieved the goal will be to commercialize new medicines that treat the central nervous system.

5- Industrial Biotechnology Program 

The Industrial Biotechnology Program is working to overcome the technological hurdles of creating high value chemicals and feedstocks from renewable biomass.Feedstocks are any renewable, biological material that can be used as a fuel, or converted to another energy product. Renewable biomass, such as cornstarch, soybean oil and landfill biogas, are all renewable, sustainable resources for producing biofuel, and there is an abundance of it. 

3 benefits of renewable biofuel: 

  1. It's a widely available, renewable source of energy 

  2. It is less expensive than fossil fuel 

  3. It produces less garbage in landfills 

The biofuel can be used in personal care products, food and nutrition ingredients, household goods, industrial applications, and agricultural products

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