Scientists find Canadian dirt containing Kryptonite for superbugs

A fungus living in the soils of Nova Scotia could offer new hope in the pressing battle against drug-resistant germs that kill tens of thousands of people every year, including one considered a serious global threat.

A team of researchers led by McMaster has discovered a fungus-derived molecule, known as AMA, which is able to disarm one of the most dangerous antibiotic-resistance genes:  NDM-1 or New Delhi Metallo-beta-Lactamase-1, identified by the World Health Organization as a global public health threat.

“This is public enemy number one,” explains Gerry Wright, director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research at McMaster University.

“It came out of nowhere, it has spread everywhere and has basically killed our last resource of antibiotics, the last pill on the shelf, used to treat serious infections,” he says.

Discovering the properties of the fungus-derived molecule is critical because it can provide a means to target and rapidly block the drug-resistant pathogens that render carbapenem antibiotics—a class of drugs similar to penicillin—ineffective.

“Simply put, the molecule knocks out NDM-1 so the antibiotics can do their job,” says Wright.

See the full article at the McMaster Daily News

2014 AWARD-WINNING PROJECT: CANMET Materials Technology Laboratory, Hamilton

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Natural Resources Canada chose to relocate its CANMET Materials Technology Laboratory from Ottawa to Hamilton to be closer to the steel and manufacturing sectors it serves through metallurgical research and testing. LEED Platinum certified, this new project raises the bar for industrial buildings in Canada.

Fundamental to passive strategies for energy reduction is a high-performance thermal envelope for walls, foundations, roof and triple glazing. Orientation of the long axis on the south and north side offers more readily harvested daylight and thermal control through specific solar shading and glazing selections.

Daylight and occupancy sensors automatically phase lighting and blinds to reduce electrical energy use. The glazing and solar shading strategy at the perimeter drives light deep into the space with the use of light-transmitting glass while customized solar shading reduces glare.

The guiding principle to the mechanical, electrical and renewable systems are maximized energy efficiency and reduction of energy waste. The vast roof allowed for extensive renewable source installations, including 209 solar thermal collectors to harvest heat.
Thermal energy, collected in solar tanks within the penthouse, is used for radiant and domestic water heating. Collectively the tanks have 180,000 litres of hot water storage capacity, which equates to three days heating for the building. Any excess thermal energy is discharged to a 152 m deep, 80-borehole, ground source system.

The building is charged with 100% fresh ventilation air, which is decoupled from the heating and cooling system to harness further efficiencies. Utilizing a displacement ventilation strategy, air is delivered through access floors or low-level diffusers. Ventilation pre-heat is provided by a solar wall which is able to increase incoming air by 16°C on a typical day in January. Set at an angle of 52°C to optimize collector efficiency, the solar wall doubles as a roof for the penthouse space. Tracking of actual performance ensures the building continues to act as a “Living Lab” for the entire design and construction industry.

See the full article at SABMagazine

Building a lasting future in Hamilton

The Hamilton Spectator, by Lisa Marr

Sustainable Hamilton got the ball rolling two years ago and now the city’s business community is building momentum.

“Businesses are starting to realize it’s not a choice between sustainability or profitability,” says Sandi Stride, president and CEO. “It’s about creating a competitive edge.”

It’s also about realizing that while installing energy-efficient light bulbs or implementing a recycling program can help the bottom line, real sustainability ensures a holistic, forward-looking strategy that encompasses the entire organization — from supply chains to human resources.

Sustainable Hamilton issued its second annual business report Tuesday evening at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington and handed out four awards to local organizations for hitting the mark while creating sustainable programs.

Toby Heaps, CEO and co-founder of Corporate Knights, was the keynote speaker.

Heaps said the work being done by Hamilton businesses was “awesome” and imperative. He pointed out that in the past 50 years, we have consumed one-third of the planet’s natural resources and 10 billion people will be climbing into middle class, consuming cars, air conditioners and other items.

“So then I try to ask provocative questions,” he said. “What about Hamilton? It could be a global leader in freshwater offshore wind. Hamilton is poised perfectly for this with manufacturing to make the turbines and the resources to do it. The province imposed a moratorium on wind turbines in 2011.

“Now is the time to go to the premier who just formed the Ministry of the Environment and climate change and suggest this.”

Heaps said there are many opportunities for Canadian companies to find a way forward by creating sustainable energy as an easily exportable commodity. He said corporate sustainability is on an upward trend.

The Hamilton numbers reflect that. Stride said when the organization launched, there were eight partner members. Now there are 14, with about 450 people from many more organizations attending workshops through the year.

The goal, said Stride, is to keep building on the momentum that’s reflected in the fact that it gave out awards to four organizations this year instead of three.

Stephanie McLarty, president of Refficient, the winner for Sustainable Innovation, said the best thing about the awards and the event is the way they motivate other businesses.

“To hear the panellists talk about the real changes they’ve made and why like Oakrun Bakery is inspiring,” she said.

Ruth Liebersbach, chief financial officer of McMaster Innovation Park, which won for Best Sustainability Report by a first-timer, said it was a lot of work.

“We were tracking lots of numbers, but we found out when we got the (Sustainable Hamilton) report that we weren’t collecting the right data.”

For example, MIP was tracking how many kilowatts were generated by its solar energy collectors but not how it saved units from the grid. In short, they weren’t really measuring the impact on the environment or the cost savings.

Liebersbach said writing the sustainability report was instructive in how to think about those impacts. The organization — which joined four months ago — is now tracking the right numbers and finding initial energy savings of 5 per cent for its tenants. It also now collects rainwater and uses it for washing the floors and watering the plants.

“I have worked for many Hamilton entrepreneurs in my career and I know that you have to show why you should do something,” she said. “Yes, we have sunk a lot of money in this, but long-term, the cost savings are amazing.”

See the full article at the Hamilton Spectator

GeoDigital International, Inc. Raises New Equity Financing From Leading International Investors

With its headquarters at McMaster Innovation Park in Hamilton Ontario, GeoDigital International, Inc. integrates the world’s most advanced imaging and data acquisition technologies to perform airborne and ground mapping services with LiDAR to deliver industry-leading business intelligence solutions for asset management and engineering. By providing access to geospatial information using proprietary software and web mapping technology in partnership with Google Earth and Google Maps Engine, GeoDigital offers utilities and engineering firms unrivaled access to their data anywhere, anytime to enable work planning, execution, and reporting. GeoDigital and its predecessor companies have a 20-year history in airborne mapping for the utility industry, providing leading-edge solutions for mapping, inspection, line rating and engineering analysis to customers across around the world.

GeoDigital International, Inc. (“GDI”) announced that it has raised an undisclosed amount of new equity financing from leading international investors.  The round was led by EnerTech Capital, a prominent North American venture capital investor focused on the energy and power industries, and Emerald Technology Ventures, one of the world’s largest clean technology investors.  They were joined in the round by GDI’s current investors, including NGP Energy Technology Partners and North Sky Capital.  GDI will use the capital to fund the company’s product extensions and continued expansion in the United States, Canadaand international markets.

“This financing will enable GDI to extend the reach of our cloud-based business intelligence solutions to meet a wide range of client needs.  GDI’s solutions increase the reliability of the information on which our clients make mission-critical decisions and help them realize significant cost savings,” stated Abe Morris, co-CEO of GeoDigital.  ”We are proud that all of our major existing investors as well as leading international investors Emerald and EnerTech participated in this financing.  These investors all have a superb track record of growing businesses across North America and internationally.”

Read the full article at Global Investing Today

Hamilton native finds his place among world’s greatest inventors

The Record, by Lisa Marr

John Hollick, a native of Hamilton with a business now based in Toronto, will have his SolarWall innovation included in a prestigious exhibit in New York that features the best inventions and inventors of the past two centuries, including those of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and George Westinghouse.

The exhibit ‘Engineering the Everyday and the Extraordinary’ is curated by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and will be available for viewing in the lobby of its Manhattan building.

Hollick, who graduated from McMaster’s civil engineering program, said it was a great honour.

The SolarWall was a breakthrough invention in the late 1970s because of its unique technical design and efficient ability to turn the sun’s energy into heat.

Hollick said before he helped found the company (and in 1984 became the sole owner), he worked on a solar project for Dofasco.

“We did a couple of projects and they were really successful,” he said. “In the 1980s there were a lot of government incentives for heating. I was a firm believer that solar heating could exist in the marketplace without those incentives.”

In an interesting twist, the European Union made an ambitious goal that by 2020 it would seek to obtain 20 per cent of its total energy consumption requirements with renewable energy sources.

That resulted in a recent deal with SolarWall’s French office and ArcelorMittal (of ArcelorMittal Dofasco) to build there for the expected surge in demand.

Because even now, with the advancements in solar technologies, SolarWall remains the only building-integrated clean energy technology and is now used in thousands of commercial, industrial and agricultural applications around the world.

In the 1980s, Hollick had tweaked the design further to make the SolarWall less expensive and more efficient by removing the need for glazing the panel and then include perforations. A fan blows the heat down and collects the heat which can then reduce heating costs from 20 to 50 per cent. A solar electrical panel can also be attached and collect and store energy, if required.

He decided too, to focus on the commercial/industrial sector rather than residential sector.

His first big break came with the contract to build a Solar Wall on the Ford plant in Oakville. Hollick said he hired an architect to work with him on the design in order to integrate the look of the panel into a building.

“It doesn’t even look like a solar panel,” he said. “When these companies go to the trouble of getting an architect to make a beautiful building, they don’t want a big ugly panel on it.”

A more recent example is the roof panel of the CANMET Materials Technology Laboratory at McMaster Innovation Park on Longwood Road — look up past the solar panels to what appears to be steel roofing — that’s the SolarWall.

Read the full article at The Record

PM helps Canadian start-up companies to grow and prosper

“It is critical for Canada’s small- and medium-sized businesses to harness innovation and get their ideas to the marketplace so that they can grow, create jobs and contribute to the economy. Accelerators and incubators have the experience, tools and know-how to help get small Canadian start-up businesses up and running. Our Government is pleased to be supporting private sector-led initiatives that further strengthen our venture capital market.” – Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced the organizations that have been chosen to advance in the selection process for the Canada Accelerator and Incubator Program (CAIP), which is designed to help outstanding small- and medium-sized Canadian enterprises to grow, prosper and create jobs. He made the announcement at Communitech, a hub for the commercialization of innovative technologies in Waterloo, Ontario. The Prime Minister was joined by Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology), Peter Braid, Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure and Communities and Member of Parliament for Kitchener-Waterloo, and Stephen Woodworth, Member of Parliament for Kitchener Centre.

Business accelerators and incubators provide innovative, early-stage entrepreneurs with resources, facilities and expertise to help them develop their business plans and seek follow-on financing. They play an important role in the venture capital system, helping innovators gain strategic advantage in a competitive international marketplace.

In 2013, the Government of Canada established CAIP to help accelerators and incubators deliver their services to promising Canadian firms. CAIP is delivered on behalf of the Government by the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP), which evaluated all proposals based on strict eligibility and selection criteria. Eligible proposals were then presented to the independent Canadian Venture Capital Expert Panel for their review and recommendations. NRC-IRAP is conducting a thorough due diligence process to establish contribution agreements with the selected organizations.

Read the full article here.

Numbers and quotes: Hamilton’s Economic Summit

At about $26 billion in GDP, Hamilton’s economy is just one step below the entire province of Newfoundland-Labrador

“There was controversy around the children’s hospital but we should be so proud of that place.”-HHS CEO Rob MacIsaac

24,576 surgical cases at HHS each year, enough people to fill the seats at Tim Hortons Field

“Ultimately, you have to put dollars in the ground… We need more people willing to take a risk.”–Gary Graham, chair of McMaster Innovation Park

HHS is number one in the province in cardiac surgeries, chemotherapy treatment

“The city of Cleveland’s footprint has grown by 35 per cent in 15 years while its population declined by 6 per cent…Urban sprawl may be one of the greatest mistakes of humankind.”-Geoff Cape, CEO of Evergreen in Toronto, an urban renewal venture behind the Brickworks project.

The goal at McMaster Innovation Park is to have 10 buildings on site and 1,200-1,500 employees within 10 years.

Over five years, $250 million has been invested in the Hamilton port, which is home to 126 businesses and 1,600 jobs

The Hamilton International Airport accounts for $644 million in yearly economic activity and 2,700 jobs.

“There have been lots of hiccups in Hamilton … but this time the cranes went up, the shovels went in the ground and we’re going.”-Tim Mattiolli, chair Realtors’ Association of Hamilton-Burlington

“We need to be more than a bedroom community. We need people to move here because they want to live here.”-Stephanie Vegh, executive director, Hamilton Arts Council

See the full article at the Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton Economic Summit refocused, scaled-down

The seventh annual Hamilton Economic Summit on Thursday will focus on attracting investment, delivering change and creating confidence.

“We want to highlight the positive changes transforming our local economy and instil greater confidence within the wider investment community,” said Hamilton Chamber of Commerce CEO Keanin Loomis.

“We’re reclaiming high ground as the Ambitious City. Our economic summit will showcase new and emerging investments that are energizing our city and gaining attention across Canada and beyond.”

There are almost 240 names on an attendee list, including local business owners, executives, leaders from educational, health care and nonprofit organizations, city bureaucrats and politicians.

The city councillors on the list are Brian McHattie, Judi Partridge, Jason Farr, Bob Morrow and Chad Collins. There are no MPPs or MPs listed.

In the past, the summit has drawn a much stronger political showing.

The only Hamilton mayoral candidates slated to attend are McHattie and Fred Eisenberger.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are sending nine representatives, compared to four from Hamilton Health Sciences. There will be 19 people coming from McMaster, including administrators, staff from McMaster Innovation Park and students’ union members.

Mohawk College is sending four people, with the same number listed for Redeemer University College.

About 200 attended last year’s summit but previous events have hosted as many as 600 over the course of a day. At one point, the summit grew to two days, including sessions for young people. Previous summits have included outside keynote speakers and panel discussions on major themes.

This year, the goal was to scale down and refocus the event, said Loomis.

It is now a half-day event at the Scottish Rite, which promises to deliver concise talks from local leaders that will showcase investment insights and announcements. The presentations will cover health sciences, McMaster Innovation Park, urban regeneration, transportation, education, complete streets and city building.

The afternoon will culminate with a panel of business leaders, entrepreneurs and philanthropists talking about where smart money is invested in Hamilton.

Summit organizers say they will deliver a report documenting outcomes from the event.

See the full story at the Hamilton Spectator!

Exercise really is the great ‘anti-ager’

Researchers from McMaster’s University incredibly discovered that endurance exercise is able to slow the aging process even though the experimental mouse subjects were genetically engineered to age faster than normal.

The exercising mice continued to exhibit youthful appearance and vitality as well as demonstrate protection from aging of internal organs during a brisk treadmill exercise regime executed three times a week, lasting 45 minutes per session and sustained for five months.

Researchers noted that the exercise provided nearly 100 percent protection against graying fur, hair loss, brain atrophy and other organ denigration. Tarnopolsky, a professor of pediatrics and medicine at McMaster’s DeGroote School of Medicine, noted that researchers were shocked at how dramatically tissues such as the spleen, liver, gonads, muscle and even the brain were enhanced by exercise. This effect was noted in every exercising mouse, and when compared with non-exercising mice they were healthy and more youthful in every parameter measured.

Non-exercisers were noted to be more socially isolated, less fertile, balding and graying, as well as, of course, much less active.

Get out and exercise! See the full article at The Garden Island.

Major discovery on the mechanism of drug resistance in leukemia and other cancers

A mechanism that enables the development of resistance to Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) anticancer drugs, thereby leading to relapse, has been identified by Kathy Borden of the University of Montreal’s Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) and her collaborators. Kathy Borden is a Principal Investigator at IRIC and a professor at the university’s Department of Pathology and Cell Biology.

The development of drug resistance is one of the main problems in clinical oncology and the cause of relapse in many patients.

The new discovery, recently published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature, constitutes a major breakthrough in the fight against AML, one of the deadliest forms of leukemia, because it immediately suggests strategies to overcome drug resistance. Furthermore, the type of drug resistance the team identified is likely implicated in other cancers and a successful new treatment regimen based on these findings could have broad applications in treating cancer.

Previous work by Professor Borden’s team had indicated that the use of ribavirin, a compound that was originally developed as an antiviral drug, could result in real benefits for certain cancer patients. With support from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of the USA, a first clinical trial using ribavirin to treat poor-prognosis AML patients was performed under the supervision of Dr. Sarit Assouline and Dr. Wilson Miller of theSegal Cancer Center at the Jewish General Hospital in Montréal.

“This first clinical study yielded extremely promising results in most patients, including remissions, with no significant treatment-related toxicity.  However, as is often the case when using a single drug, all patients eventually relapsed,” recall Drs. Assouline and Miller. The multi-center study also included patients from the Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont (HMR) in Montreal and the McMaster University/Hamilton Health Sciences Center in Hamilton, Ontario.

See the full article at Health Canal