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Canadian Government, Industry Invest C$21M in Genomic Applications Program

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Genome Canada announced today that the Canadian federal government, as well as various provincial governments, businesses, and other partners have invested C$21 million ($16.0 million) in its Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP).

The federal government, under the auspices of Minister of Science and Sport Kirsty Duncan, has invested C$6.7 million, while provincial governments and industry partners are providing an additional C$14.3 million, Genome Canada said. The investments will fund seven new GAPP projects that will foster private-public partnerships to develop new gene-based technologies in healthcare, agriculture, and environmental protection.

In British Columbia, AbCellera Biologics and the University of British Columbia will receive C$6.5 million to develop new antibody-based therapeutics for the treatment of fibrosis associated with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

In the prairie provinces, Lallemand Plant Care is teaming up with researchers from the University of Regina to develop microbial inoculants and promote crop yield through biostimulation and biofertilization — they'll receive C$427,000.

In Ontario, Vineland Research and Innovation Centre will receive C$2 million to partner with a team from the University of Toronto and create new varieties of vegetables that will be more resistant to various diseases. Also, Fusion Genomics researchers and University of Toronto investigators will receive C$791,000 to develop pre-emergence surveillance screening for reportable influenza viruses. And a team from Adapsyn Bioscience and McMaster University will receive C$6 million to apply the Adapsyn genomics platform to the identification, isolation, and characterization of immune modulators from the human microbiome.

In Québec, the Québec’s Wildlife Law Enforcement Agency and Université Laval will receive C$3 million for a project that uses genomics to manage and protect caribou populations. The team will use a tool consisting of a SNP chip that will allow for the identification of specific herds based on a simple tissue sample. And a team from Eloxx Pharmaceuticals and McGill University Health Centre will receive C$2 million to develop a novel aminoglycoside readthrough therapy for nonsense mutations. Such a therapy could be used to treat nephropathic cystinosis, a rare disease affecting infants who inherit two mutant copies of the CTNS gene. Eloxx has developed a novel aminoglycoside that bypasses the W138X mutation in patient cells and shows no toxicity in cells, animals, and human volunteers.

"It all starts with science and our remarkable scientists. By investing in researchers, we are giving them the opportunity to work with each other and their counterparts in the business, health, and agriculture sectors to find the ideas and innovations that power a stronger economy and a growing middle class," Duncan said in a statement.

Genome Canada launched GAPP in 2013, and approximately C$127 million has been invested in 48 projects to date, the organization noted.

In January, Genome Canada announced that it has partnered with various Canadian provinces and organizations to invest a total of C$255 million in two initiatives advancing precision medicine and genomic technology development. The organization then launched a national initiative to promote the clinical implementation of precision medicine, with an initial focus on rare diseases, in June.