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Technology: Areas for Advancement and Exploration

Technology has drastically changed the way that many fields operate and medicine is no different. In the Toronto Region Human Health and Sciences: Cluster Action Plan, we outlined some of the cluster opportunities, particularly as they relate to tech. Here’s a closer look at the four key areas we’ve identified:

Regenerative Medicine: Regenerative medicine is a burgeoning area of research due to the shortage of organs available on the transplant list. The waiting lists of people looking for kidney, liver, lung, and pancreas transplants is extensive. Unfortunately, many never receive the organs they need due to the exceedingly high demand. Regenerative medicine has made huge advancements by allowing, for example, scientists to graft skin (even between different people) and grow organs from tissues cells. Companies like Octane are continuously working on varied areas of regenerative medicine: enhanced implants, cell therapy automation, and creating biomaterials and bioprocesses. Toronto-based company BlueRock Therapeutics is taking on regenerative disease by working on cell therapy. BlueRock opened a researched and development lab in partnership with the McEwan Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University Health Network.

Data and Analytics: There’s an ongoing quest to be able to analyze and understand trends among patients, tests, and treatments to see where improvement can be made. Data and analytics in medical technology have taken two key focuses: the digitization of patient records and the ability to compile and analyze information for end goals such as decision automation and predictive intelligence. Toronto-based company Dot Health focuses on the patient side of data management, providing a digital platform for individuals to store and access medical information and documentation.

Imaging and Medical Devices: The first medical imaging modality available was the x-ray machine. Imaging has come a long way since then, including the advent of ultrasound machines, MRI scans, and CT scans. In the future, 3D scans will evolve in the way of improved detail and clarity with lower levels of radiation. The hope is that healthcare providers will be able to produce color images and localize medical problems inside a patient's body without requiring a single incision using real-time imaging. Companies like AIDoc are “working on a novel combination of many technological disciplines - computer vision, deep learning and natural language processing algorithms,” in an attempt to integrate artifical intelligence into medical imaging practices. Toronto-based PocketHealth is revolutionizing the way that medical imaging is stored and managed: "PocketHealth is a secure, online platform that allows imaging centers to share medical imaging with their patients - instantly and securely. Patients access their imaging minutes after their scan and can share their records with any healthcare professional - on or off the platform"

Genomics: Genomics centers around the genetic material (the DNA) of every patient. In recent years, much attention has been paid to the role of genomics in the onset and management of cancer. More recently, the conversation around genomics has taken a much broader turn. For example, medical professionals have been isolating and analyzing DNA to predict responses to medicine and the onset of infections. Medical technology will continue to focus on how genomics can be used to create individualized medical plans for patients that are holistic and proactive. Deep Genomics is another thriving Toronto-based company, whose work in the space of AI and genomics research is centred on develop genetic medicines to treat several medical disorders. Deep Genomics was co-founded by Brendan Frey at the University of Toronto and has raised $13 million in funding.

Read the Toronto Region Human Health and Sciences: Cluster Action Plan: