Diagnostic Radiology Professor, Dr. Daniel Boyd had just moved from the Republic of Ireland when he walked into Dalhousie’s Industry Liaison and Innovation Office to discuss an innovative idea he had to develop an X-ray visible technology in the treatment of cancerous tumors. In an ironic twist of fate, Dr. Bob Abraham an Interventional Radiologist was looking for a partner to develop that same technology. The connection between the two was soon made and a third person, Dalhousie Scientist, Sharon Kehoe was brought into the fold to start the company known today as ABK BioMedical (A = Abraham, B = Boyd, K = Kehoe).
Excited about the potential to impact the cancer market they sought out funding opportunities to develop their new technology. In the fall of 2011 they entered The BioInnovation Challenge, an investment competition organized by BioNova, the Nova Scotia life sciences association with the potential to win $30,000 in seed funding and advisory services. They pitched a compelling product they called OccluRad, which involved tiny x-ray visible bio-compatible glass beads used to treat uterine fibroids, or benign tumors in a woman’s uterus.
Today doctors are treating this condition by introducing particles through a blood vessel, which targets the tumors and causes them to shrink. The problem with today’s technology is that the particles are invisible to X-ray, meaning doctors can’t personalize the treatment to optimize the patients’ healthcare. This problem provided the team at ABK BioMedical an opportunity to improve on that treatment process with x-ray visible beads that would increase the effectiveness of the patients’ procedure.
ABK Biomedical’s development of OccluRad particles in the treatment of fibroid tumors, was deemed the most attractive for investment by the panel of judges. Their compelling product pitch would win them The BioInnovation Challenge, which was in its inaugural year. Through the support of the competition they were able to incorporate their business and invest further into research and development. The experience would also open new doors for investment opportunities that would help them build a strong platform to bring their product to market. Today the company has three products in development and are planning to launch them in Europe and the U.S in 2016.