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3 Halifax bioscience labs get $1.7M from Ottawa

Funding will help startups treat joint pain, sleep apnea and buy equipment

2 min read
A man in a tan suit pinches his fingers while gesturing to a man in a dark grey suit.
caption Daniel Boyd explains the size of glass microspheres to MP Andy Fillmore.
Mathieu Hebert

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 nearly $950,000. 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. Repayment is interest-free.

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. The money will also fund critical pre-clinical trials.

Agada Biosciences is relocating to a new lab to test drugs for rare muscle diseases. The 15,000-square-foot facility is in the same building as the Halifax Brewery Market on Lower Water Street. Specialized equipment and graduate hiring are also included in their spending outline. The company, run by Eric Hoffman and Kanneboyina Nagaraju, looks to move into the new facility from its Summer Street location by March.

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

“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 Atlantic Canadian bioscience sector employs more than 10,000 people, according to the federal government.

Boyd is hopeful 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. The company hopes to treat its first patient within three years.

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