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The Center for Research and Application of Fluid Technology (CRAFT) has been extended until 2028 and expanded to officially include Unity Health Toronto, an academic hospital network and Canada’s leading health research institution.
A unique partnership between U of T, the National Research Council of Canada (NRC), and now Unity Health Toronto, CRAFT is developing cutting-edge microfluidic devices that can address many challenges in human health.
The latest agreement, which includes $21 million in new investment, will join dozens of NRC scientists, engineers, and clinical scientists to work on exciting projects related to diagnostic biofabrication and organ-on-a-chip systems. will support T University trainees.
With the addition of Unity Health Toronto, clinicians will join CRAFT scientists to work on developing new microfluidic technologies, including detecting and monitoring infection risk in the intensive care unit (ICU) environment, and rapid detection of peripheral arterial disease. It will be. This will enable scientists and clinicians to test and validate technologies directly in medical settings and develop new avenues for collaboration with industry partners.
“CRAFT was built on a shared vision that microfluidics has the potential to have a real impact on Canadian science and clinical practice,” said NRC Director of Research and Development at the Center for Medical Device Research. , said Dr. Teodor Veres, co-director of CRAFT.
“We are focused on providing a new generation of students with the opportunity to create groundbreaking scientific and technological advances in microfluidic devices, and these advances have the potential to revolutionize the diagnosis and treatment of disease in Canada and around the world.” This vision has been critical to the growth and ongoing success of our initiative.”
Microfluidic technology allows fluids to be manipulated in small, engineered devices with functionality at the scale of one-thousandth of a micron of a millimeter. The ability to precisely control fluids at this scale has many important applications in engineering, medicine, biology, and chemistry.
Applications of microfluidics allow clinicians to reliably test for the presence of certain diseases at a patient’s bedside, while avoiding the costs and time delays associated with sending samples to large-scale testing laboratories. Includes rapid diagnostic equipment. Microfluidics is also used in biosensors that allow patients in remote locations to transmit precise data to specialists hundreds of kilometers away.
As an example, Unity Health critical care physician and scientist Dr. Claudia dos Santos pinpointed the need to quickly identify ICU patients at risk for sepsis. She is collaborating with her CRAFT researchers to develop microfluidic devices that can detect sepsis biomarkers on the ICU floor. Such devices allow for faster diagnosis and treatment of sepsis, which can be fatal if left untreated.
“Unity Health Toronto has officially joined CRAFT, bringing the power and potential of microfluidic devices to the clinic. This partnership will enable clinicians to combine their expertise with CRAFT scientists to help patients It allows us to take the next big step in transforming care,” said Dos Santos.
Another application of microfluidics, known as organs-on-a-chip, allows cells, tissues, and even parts of functioning organs to be grown outside the body in microfluidic devices. These biological models can be used for high-throughput screening of large libraries of potential therapeutic molecules for specific functions. For example, to determine which one is most effective against a particular type of cancer. Such screens could also suggest the ideal treatment for each individual patient, opening the door to precision medicine.
CRAFT was founded in 2018 and has three microfluidic device research and development facilities. tissue foundry For bioprinting and preclinical validation of devices.of device foundry For microfluidic device design, prototyping and small-scale manufacturing. NRC device manufacturing and scale-up facility. The first two are at U of T and are available for use by academics, students, industry, and government. The latter is located on his NRC campus in Boucherville, Quebec.
In 2023, the facility hosted 125 unique users from across U of T as well as affiliated hospitals including Sunnybrook, SickKids and University Health Network. Since its founding, CRAFT has engaged 44 researchers and his 114 trainees on a wide range of projects, resulting in 69 peer-reviewed publications, 22 patent applications, and his 3 spin-off companies. Ta.
“CRAFT has been a team effort throughout. In addition to the NRC, we have received support from: institutional strategic initiatives Through U of T’s Vice Chancellor’s Office for Research and Innovation, and U of T’s Schools of Engineering, Arts and Sciences, Medicine, and Pharmacy. We all look forward to this exciting next chapter in our partnership with Unity Health,” said Axel Günther, a U of T professor of mechanical engineering and co-director of his CRAFT.
“To develop the next generation of Canadian-made microfluidic technology and bring it to those who need it most – patients, healthcare professionals and pharmaceutical companies – we need strong collaboration both inside and outside of CRAFT and with our clinical partner U of T’s. We need partnerships: the entrepreneurship ecosystem and Canadian industry. Visit and take advantage of our open research facility in Toronto or join us for the Microfluidic Professional Course July 17-19 . Attend our research symposium Boucheville on October 12, 2024. ”