$1.7 million in ACOA funding announced for Halifax bioscience labs

One company, ClearDynamic, to treat joint pain with microscopic glass balls

Daniel Boyd choked up when telling a story of his mother’s struggle with arthritis to a small crowd of researchers and politicians at the Dalhousie faculty of dentistry on Tuesday.

“Her favourite thing to do is garden … and she can’t do it anymore because the drugs that the doctor offers her don’t work,” said Boyd.

Unable to stand the sight of his 75-year-old mother in pain, Boyd, an associate professor at Dalhousie’s school of biomedical engineering, took to researching new methods of treatment.

Boyd’s company, ClearDynamic, came up with a non-invasive remedy: bioglass microspheres. The technology uses microscopic glass balls injected into the bloodstream to block nerve pain in joints.

ClearDynamic is one of three Halifax bioscience companies that will share $1.7 million in contributions from the federal government. Boyd’s company is receiving roughly $950,000 of that sum. Agada Biosciences is receiving $500,000 and NovaResp Technologies is receiving $250,000.

The money comes through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency’s (ACOA) Regional Economic Growth through Innovation program.

Boyd said ClearDynamic, which is currently run out of Dalhousie’s dental labs, will use the money to bring in international collaborators and buy new equipment for their research.

With their share of the funding, Agada is seeking to build a new waterfront lab for their testing of drugs for rare muscle diseases. The company envisions a 15,000-square-foot laboratory inside the same building as the Halifax Brewery Market on Lower Water Street. Specialized lab equipment and graduate hiring are also included in their spending outline. The company hopes to move into the new facility by March this year.

NovaResp CEO Hamed Hanafi said their funding will be put towards hiring staff to help design their AI-powered sleep apnea assistance software. The technology would be able to predict when a patient would stop breathing and prevent a respiratory attack.

“These are products that are going to help with people’s health,” said Halifax MP Andy Fillmore in an interview. “It’s also going to help Canadians because … it’s creating jobs.”

The federal government says the Atlantic Canadian bioscience sector, including privately-owned businesses and government organizations, employs more than 10,000 people.

Boyd is hopeful that his company’s solution for arthritic pain is successful, citing long wait times for knee replacement surgery in Canada.

“People with knee pain … their lives are shot to pieces,” he said. “They can’t do the simplest things. We’re going to fix that.”

ClearDynamic’s glass microspheres are still undergoing testing, but the company hopes to treat their first patients within three years.

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