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Sunnybrook Hospital

Government of Canada invests in Sunnybrook-led collaboration to deliver better, faster and safer health outcomes for Canadians

Network will transform Canada’s image-guided therapy industry into a global leader by integrating artificial intelligence into imaging-based medical technologies

The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, today announced an investment of $49 million into the Industry Consortium for Image-Guided Therapy (ICIGT), a pan-Canadian network led by Sunnybrook.

“Canadians have long been at the forefront of exciting innovations in health and biosciences, and through the Strategic Innovation Fund we have brought together the best in the public and private sectors to find real health care solutions. Our investment in the ICIGT project is helping to leverage Canada’s strengths in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and image-guided therapies to ultimately deliver better health care for Canadians across the country,” says Bains.

The network of 70 private and public sector partners will invest more than an additional $76 million, for a total project value of $126 million. It will transform Canada’s image-guided therapy sector into a global leader by integrating artificial intelligence and data advances into medical technologies that use imaging to treat, diagnose and monitor disease.

Doing so will improve treatments for Canadians, get new personalized therapies to people faster and reduce the public costs of health care.

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“Sunnybrook would like to thank the Government of Canada for this significant investment in image-guided therapeutics,” says Dr. Andy Smith, President and CEO of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. “For years, Sunnybrook, along with its partners, has been pioneering and commercializing groundbreaking work in this area. This important grant will help encourage further investment, inspire greater breakthroughs around the world, and elevate Canada’s artificial intelligence and image-guided therapy sectors."

The Symphony

Unveiled at the announcement was the prototype Harmonic Medical Symphony, an MRI-guided clinical focused ultrasound system. The system can destroy fibroids noninvasively in about one hour during an outpatient procedure. It focuses ultrasound beams on the target lesion, and the beams heat up and destroy the lesion.

Upwards of 60 per cent of women will develop uterine fibroids by the time they are 50 years old and for 20 per cent of these women, symptoms will be so severe that treatment is required, most commonly surgical removal of the uterus. The Symphony requires no incisions and uses no radiation. It can help preserve fertility in a woman suffering from symptomatic fibroids.

The prototype has the highest element count of any high-intensity focused ultrasound system on the planet, giving women more treatment options and better outcomes. It was built entirely in-house, in Sunnybrook Research Institute’s Centre for Research in Image-Guided Therapeutics.

Dr. Kullervo Hynynen, director of Physical Sciences at Sunnybrook Research Institute, and project lead of the ICIGT, pioneered the technology, which led to the spinoff Harmonic Medical Inc. The Symphony will be tested in a clinical trial of 40 women. Uterine fibroids are the first of clinical indications the device aims to treat. Others will include cancers of the bone, liver and pancreas.

Investment comes from government's Strategic Innovation Fund

Sunnybrook Research Institute submitted the winning bid, which underwent rigorous competition, after a call by the Strategic Innovation Fund for projects in the health and biosciences that improve Canada's innovation performance while providing economic, innovation and public benefits to Canadians through collaboration between the private sector, researchers and nonprofits.

Today’s investment builds on past awards from FedDev Ontario and the Canada Foundation for Innovation, through which the Centre for Research in Image-Guided Therapeutics was built.


Media contact

Jennifer Palisoc
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Jennifer.palisoc@sunnybrook.ca
416-480-4040

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Industry Consortium for Image-Guided Therapy

Artificial Intelligence Meets Image-Guided Therapy

The network will transform Canada’s image-guided therapy (IGT) industry into a global leader.

Founded on Sunnybrook Research Institute’s expertise in IGT and commercialization, the consortium will link companies, researchers and nonprofits to expand the IGT cluster across Canada, from British Columbia to Newfoundland & Labrador—and worldwide. This network will integrate artificial intelligence and data advances into IGT technologies.

Doing so will:
Improve treatments for Canadians
Get new personalized therapies to people faster
Reduce the public costs of health care

A Network of Funding and Partnerships:

  • $49 million from the federal government
  • $76 million+ in matching funds from partners
  • 22 research institute, university and nonprofit partners
  • 56 company partners

5 year impact:

  • 45 technologies
  • 10-20 startups
  • 300+ new full-time jobs
  • sustain 600+ full-time jobs
  • 60+ internships
  • $80 million investment into partner companies
  • $200 million in sales