Lab of Dr. Alexis Vallée-Bélisle awarded $700,000 Idea to Innovation Grant

Date: 1/28/2019

A $700,000 Idea to Innovation grant has been awarded to Prof. Alexis Vallée-Bélisle, Canada Research Chair in Bioengineering & Bionanotechnology and Associate Professor of Chemistry at Université de Montréal to develop a prototype blood testing device based on electrochemical DNA nanosensors. Dr. Vallée-Bélisle’s lab is developing assays to monitor Chronic Kidney Disease, Congestive Heart Failure and similar major chronic conditions. A portion of the funds will come from the Canadian federal government and a portion will come as in-kind and cash contributions from Nanogenecs, a spin out from Dr. Vallée-Bélisle’s lab[NS2] . “We are excited to further validate and develop our electrochemical DNA nanosensors for detection of a broad class of biomarkers directly in whole blood” notes Dr. Vallée-Bélisle. Added Shahid Azim, CEO of Nanogenecs: “We are thrilled to have been selected for the highly competitive I2I grant. We envision a future for everyone where biological information and clinical biochemistry becomes the foundation for proactive risk management of one’s health at home. This grant funding will get us closer to enabling this vision.” Dr. Vincent de Guire, Clinical Biochemist at Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital in Montreal and co-founder of Nanogenecs explained, “Chronic Kidney Disease and Congestive Heart Failure patients would benefit from the safeguard of key biomarker measurement at home. Communication of results with their physician in a connected care platform will allow a proactive and preventive follow up of their condition.

About Idea to Innovation Grants

The Idea to Innovation (I2I) grants are sponsored by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). The objective of the Idea to Innovation (I2I) Grant is to accelerate the pre-competitive development of promising technology originating from the university and college sector and promote its transfer to a new or established Canadian company. The I2I Grants provide funding to college and university faculty members to support research and development projects with recognized technology transfer potential. This is achieved through defined phases by providing crucial assistance in the early stages of technology validation and market connection.

About CKD and CHF

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a type of kidney disease in which there is gradual loss of kidney function over a period of months or years. Complications may include heart disease, high blood pressure, bone disease, or anemia. There are five stages of CKD, culminating in End-Stage Renal Disease, or Total and permanent kidney failure treated with a kidney transplant or dialysis. The overall prevalence of CKD in the general population is approximately 14 percent. More than 661,000 Americans have kidney failure; of these, 468,000 individuals are on dialysis, and roughly 193,000 live with a functioning kidney transplant.

Congestive Heart Failure is when the heart is unable to pump sufficiently to maintain blood flow to meet the body's needs. Signs and symptoms of heart failure commonly include shortness of breath, excessive tiredness, and leg swelling. Common causes of heart failure include coronary artery disease including a previous heart attack, high blood pressure, and atrial fibrillation. There are over 5.7 million adults in the US living with heart failure and the condition alone accounts for more than 1 million admissions to hospital per year (1). When a patient with heart failure is hospitalized acutely, this represents an inflection point in their illness and is indicative of a shortening prognosis. After an admission for heart failure, 1 in 4 patients will be readmitted to hospital within 30 days of discharge costing Medicare $1.7 billion (2), and by 6 months 1 in 2 patients will have been admitted to the hospital again (3).One half to two thirds of these readmissions are triggered by remediable factors e.g. non-adherence to recommendations regarding diet and medical treatment and inadequate follow-up.

There is mounting evidence that chronic kidney disease itself is a major contributor to severe cardiac damage and, conversely, that congestive heart failure is a major cause of progressive chronic kidney disease (4). Uncontrolled congestive heart failure is often associated with a rapid fall in renal function and adequate control of congestive heart failure can prevent this. The opposite is also true: treatment of chronic kidney disease can prevent congestive heart failure.

About Nanogenecs

Nanogenecs is an early stage in vitro diagnostic company with the vision of enabling patients with chronic diseases to better manage their conditions through a platform for self-testing at home that yields equivalent results to the central lab. Test results will be integrated with remote care plans of the patient’s health care providers. Nanogenecs is incorporated in Canada[NS3] . The team is co-located in Montreal and Boston.

1. Mosterd A and Hoes AW (2007). Clinical epidemiology of heart failure. Heart 93(9): 1137 - 1146.

2. Hines AL, Barrett ML, Jiang J, Steiner CA (2014). Conditions with the largest number of adult hospital readmissions by payer, 2011. Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project accessed electronically at 19 Feb 2017.

3. Bhimaraj A (2013). Remote monitoring of heart failure patients. Methodist Debakey Cardiovasc J. 9(1): 26 - 31.

4. Silverberg et al., (2004) “The Association between Congestive Heart Failure and Chronic Renal Disease.” Current Opinion in Nephrology and Hypertension. 13, 163-170.

Contact: Shahid Azim

Telephone: 617-710-1792



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