Lawson researchers celebrated at Vanguard Awards

Celebrating the success of leaders in innovation and commercialization, WORLDiscoveries® held their second annual Vanguard Awards on Thursday, September 22 at Windermere Manor. Lawson Health Research Institute (Lawson) scientists were awarded in all three categories, including Innovator of the Year 2016.

WORLDiscoveries® is the technology transfer and business development office for Lawson, Western University, and Robarts Research Institute. Their second annual Vanguard Awards recognized researchers who, in partnership with WORLDiscoveries, achieved market-readiness milestones over the past fiscal year.

“Commercialization is a vital component in driving innovation and transforming health care, said Dr. David Hill, Scientific Director at Lawson. “I was pleased to see Lawson scientists recognized at the Vanguard Awards and was honoured to announce the co-recipients of the Innovator of the Year award, Drs. Eva Turley and Len Luyt.”

The Innovator of the Year award is given to individuals who demonstrate excellence in innovation within their field. The award highlights the achievements of personnel who contribute to the culture of commercialization and entrepreneurship by creating a product or service that is beneficial to society. Drs. Turley and Luyt, scientists at Lawson, were recognized for their work with Novare Pharmaceuticals on RHAMM-binding peptides.

Novare Pharmaceuticals was founded based on the pioneering work of Dr. Turley. She discovered the Receptor for Hyaluronan-Mediated Motility (RHAMM) which is a protein that plays a role in the regulation of spontaneous cell movement and stem cell differentiation.

Novare’s RHAMM-based therapeutic products aim to safely and selectively stimulate cell differentiation as well as reduce destructive inflammation and scarring. Potential applications include the treatment of osteoarthritis, lung fibrosis, and several types of cancers, as well as the prevention or reduction of tissue scarring.

Lawson and Novare first entered into a Master Research Collaboration Agreement in 2015. As lead scientist, Dr. Luyt plays a critical role in developing, characterizing and optimizing novel therapeutic compounds. Over the past two years, Dr. Luyt and his team have created and characterized hundreds of novel peptides for Novare.

At Lawson, the peptides by Dr. Luyt are being screened in Dr. Turley’s lab for therapeutic potential; lead drug candidates are being tested; and future clinical work is anticipated. The intellectual property created by both researchers is of great significance to Novare, forming the basis of the company’s development pipeline.

“This collaboration is a prime example of a mutually beneficial partnership,” said Dr. Hill “Novare is developing therapeutic products and Lawson is meeting our mandate of translational health care from lab bench to patient bedside.”

Lawson scientists were also awarded in the event’s other two categories. Dr. Matthew Hebb, a neurosurgeon-researcher at Lawson, received a License Agreement Signed Award for an agreement signed with STEMCELL Technologies Inc. with respect to his technology, “Autologous Brain Biopsies as Sources of Expandable Cell Reserves for Therapeutic Application in Neurological Disease”.

Dr. Hebb and his team have been developing innovative strategies to study Parkinson’s disease, for which there is no known cause in the majority of cases and no known cure. The agreement gives STEMCELL global exclusive rights to commercialize novel tools for Parkinson’s disease research, providing critical access to researchers worldwide.  The immediate goal is to move Parkinson’s disease research forward with the ultimate goal of better treatment options for patients.

In addition, Dr. Eva Turley, Dr. Len Luyt and Mr. Kenneth Esguerra received a Patent Issued Award as co-inventors of “RHAMM-binding Peptides”. Drs. Bryan Richardson and Martin Frasch also received a Patent Issued Award for their technology, “EEG Monitor of Fetal Health”.

These awards highlight the global impact of diverse and innovative research in London, Ontario.

“Through WORLDiscoveries®, Lawson is able to establish and maintain mutually beneficial research collaborations, partnerships and licensing relationships with private sector partners – companies that are willing to invest in further development and translation of our discoveries into products and services,” said Dr. Hill. “Thank you to everyone at WORLDiscoveries for your dedication and the work you do for us.”