World-Class Research At Trent University To Help Reduce Threat Of Global Epidemics



    McGuinty Government Investing In Areas Where Ontario Can Compete And Win

    PETERBOROUGH, ON, Feb. 14 /CNW/ - Reducing the threat of global health
epidemics including influenza, HIV, SARS, and hepatitis is the goal of a
research project at Trent University.
    The McGuinty government is investing $2 million to support the
International Consortium on Anti-Virals, a Canadian consortium headquartered
at Trent University with a worldwide research network of 200 scientists and
private sector partners from 21 countries.
    Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal, on behalf of Minister of Research and
Innovation John Wilkinson, made the announcement today with International
Consortium of Anti-Virals (ICAV) CEO Jeremy Carver and Trent University
president Bonnie Patterson.

    
    Ontario's investment will:

    -   Boost the consortium's success in discovering and commercializing new
        anti-virals that will treat infectious viral diseases such as HIV and
        target pandemic diseases such as SARS, which pose large-scale threats
        to global health and economic security.

    -   Help develop new drugs that target viral diseases faster and more
        affordably by strengthening information sharing among the
        consortium's industry partners.
    

    "To ensure Ontario can compete and win in the global economy, our
government is investing in world-class research and the skills and knowledge
of our people," Wilkinson said. "The strong partnerships among our government,
top researchers and the global biopharmaceutical industry will help attract
the expertise needed to bring exciting new health-care discoveries to market
faster in this province, resulting in high-value jobs and a higher quality of
life for all Ontarians."
    "Today's investment builds on the considerable talent at Trent University
and our province's leadership in growing sectors such as anti-viral research,"
said Leal. "It's part of the McGuinty government's strategy to boost Ontario's
economy, support better healthcare and create the jobs of the future."
    "The Ontario government and MPP Jeff Leal are to be commended for their
leadership at the provincial level to secure $2 million in funding for the
ongoing work of the ICAV consortium, which is headquartered at Trent
University," said Trent University President and Vice Chancellor Bonnie
Patterson. "This strategic investment by the province supports ICAV in its
mission to accelerate the discovery of new anti-viral drugs and will assist in
advancing the commercialization of scientific research that is being pursued
by over 200 ICAV-affiliated scientists from around the world."
    This investment is part of the McGuinty government's plan to support
research excellence that can be developed into new products and services that
will boost Ontario's economy and support Ontario families. Other initiatives
include:

    
    -   Investing $527 million in globally significant innovation projects
        across Ontario, through the Ontario Research Fund
    -   Launching the $160 million Ideas-to-Market strategy that supports
        emerging companies, which includes the Ontario Venture Capital Fund
    -   Providing a 21 per cent Capital Tax rate cut for all businesses
        retroactive to January 1, 2007, on the way to full elimination in
        2010
    -   Announcing in the 2007 Fall Economic Statement an additional
        $50 million in strategic investment to further strengthen Ontario's
        environment for scientific research that will lead to new
        discoveries, higher quality of life and new jobs.

    For more information, please visit www.ontario.ca/innovation.

    Disponible en français

                          www.ontario.ca/innovation


    Backgrounder
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

                   REDUCING THE THREAT OF GLOBAL EPIDEMICS
    

    Containing Outbreaks Of Infectious Diseases
    -------------------------------------------
    The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak of 2003
dramatically highlighted the threat of infectious diseases right here in
Ontario and around the world. It also demonstrated the importance of having
quick and accurate systems in place to diagnose, treat, contain and monitor
the spread of infectious diseases.
    The International Consortium on Anti-Virals at Trent University is
harnessing the knowledge and cutting-edge research from 200 scientists from 21
countries and private sector partners to encourage collaboration and
accelerate the development and delivery of treatments that target viral
diseases worldwide.
    With the goal of creating more affordable, fast-to-market anti-viral
medications, the consortium's activities support the Ontario government's
strategy to attract and retain highly skilled researchers. The goal is to
boost Ontario's economy and create high-value jobs in areas where Ontario can
compete and win in the global economy.
    Ontario has already invested $150,000 to solidify the consortium's
efforts to hold workshops, exchange ideas and share knowledge among its
partner organizations.

    
    Key facts:

    -   Today's investment will assist in the development of more effective,
        low-cost anti-viral drugs that are a key part of an early response to
        influenza and other epidemics like SARS.

    -   SARS killed 800 people around the world. On top of this human loss
        and suffering, the disease took a devastating toll on Ontario's
        economy, putting people out of jobs and costing millions of dollars
        in lost potential economic activity.

    -   According to the World Health Organization, Influenza is a virus that
        poses significant threat to society. In annual influenza epidemics
        five to 15 per cent of the population are affected with upper
        respiratory tract infections. Hospitalization and deaths mainly occur
        in high-risk groups (elderly, chronically ill).

    -   Annual influenza epidemics are thought to result in between three and
        five million cases of severe illness and between 250,000 and 500,000
        deaths every year around the world. Most deaths currently associated
        with influenza in industrialized countries occur among the elderly
        over 65 years of age.

    -   According to Sherry Cooper, Chief Economist at BMO Nesbitt Burns, a
        loss of a trillion dollars is what the world faces in the event of an
        influenza pandemic. Canada's share would be $80 billion.

    -   Influenza rapidly spreads around the world in seasonal epidemics and
        imposes a considerable economic burden in the form of hospital and
        other health-care costs and lost productivity.

    -   Anti-viral drugs provide protection while a vaccine is developed.
        Anti-viral drugs can provide effective treatment for diseases where a
        vaccine has yet to be identified.

    Learn more about the International Consortium on Anti-Virals

    Read about the Influenza Virus

    Find out more about Trent University


    Disponible en français

                          www.ontario.ca/innovation
    





For further information:

For further information: Perry Blocher, Ministry of Research and
Innovation, (416) 326-7717; Sandra Watts, Minister's Office, (416) 314-7067

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ONTARIO MINISTRY OF RESEARCH AND INNOVATION

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