Cytognomix wins inaugural Stiller Centre Prize and receives OGI funding

Monday, April 6, 2009

London, Ontario-based Cytognomix has been recognized by the Stiller Centre for Technology Commercialization and the Ontario Genomics Institute (OGI) for its development of DNA probes that can detect genetic mutations and diseases more effectively than other methods currently available.

Established by husband and wife team Drs. Peter Rogan (Department of Biochemistry) and Joan Knoll (Department of Pathology) Cytognomix was awarded the inaugural Stiller Centre Prize on Thursday, April 2nd in recognition of their innovative science work.

At an event held at the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, the Honourable John Wilkinson, Minister of Research and Innovation, presented the Prize on behalf of the Stiller Centre, adding how important it was to support Ontario businesses like Cytognomix that are leading the way in developing the technology of the future and helping to grow the province's knowledge-based economy today.

The event also featured OGI presenting Rogan and Knoll with a cheque for an investment made in their company through its Pre-commercialization Business Development Fund, which invests in opportunities bringing genomics applications to the marketplace.

"Ontario's greatest competitive advantage is our people and our ideas," said Wilkinson. "We are committed to supporting world-class research. And we're glad to have partners like the Stiller Centre and the Ontario Genomics Institute working with us to turn great Ontario ideas into great Ontario jobs."

Cytognomix is developing and manufacturing DNA probes that can pinpoint genetic abnormalities more precisely than current methods and could, in the future, result in more effective disease diagnostics and more tailored treatment pathways for patients. "These probes are the genetic equivalent of finding a needle in the haystack," commented Glen Smeltzer, President of the Stiller Centre. "We are extremely proud to present the inaugural Stiller Centre Prize to such an innovative local business."

The Stiller Centre Prize aims to attract researchers with promising technologies to commercialize them in the London area. The prize consists of the provision of space in the centre itself, access to support services and funding assistance for an initial 18-month term.

Dr. Christian Burks, President and CEO of OGI, said: "OGI supports the acceleration of genomics discoveries and technologies to the marketplace, and we are pleased to be investing in a company that is developing technology that has the potential to make personalized medicine a reality."

Cytognomix has already designed and tested 400 single copy DNA probes for around 100 chromosomal disorders. Within a few years it hopes to be manufacturing probes that doctors can use to diagnose many more conditions.

"Subtle differences in chromosome structure are very common in genetic disorders," commented Dr. Rogan, who was named a Canada Research Chair this month. "The probes will enable quicker and more precise identification of these diseases and other genetic abnormalities, and will aid physicians in choosing relevant and suitable treatments for the patient."