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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Faster, faster please

Ontario and Israel are partnering on focused ultrasound to destroy brain tumors.
It looks like a large hair dryer at a beauty salon, but can be used to deliver intense heat to a precise area of the brain. Neuroscientists are hoping soon to test whether it can help them destroy a brain tumour without opening a patient’s skull.

If preliminary results for focused ultrasound are promising, then Todd Mainprize and other scientists at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto have a new place to go for funding for the next stage of their research. The Ontario Brain Institute, announced by Premier Dalton McGuinty on Monday, will provide $15-million over three years for collaborative research on the frontiers of neuroscience. The goal is to make Ontario a brain science hub, to bring researchers from across the province together and to help them commercialize their discoveries.


One of its first international partnerships will be with Israel. In fact, Israeli President Shimon Peres invited Ontario to form a partnership on brain research during Mr. McGuinty’s trade mission to the Middle East in May.

“He throws this at me from out of nowhere,” Mr. McGuinty said.

“I said, ‘you don’t waste any time do you?’”

“Not missing a beat, he said, ‘Time is so short, I don’t waste time.’”

Israel and Ontario have not yet worked out the details. Before that happens, Mr. McGuinty said, the province needs to get its house in order by establishing a collaborative network of researchers.


Dr. McIntosh said he is thrilled about the idea of collaborating with Israeli scientists.

He is working on a virtual brain, a grid of powerful computers that can mimic basic patterns of brain activity that occur when people are doing different things, like reading or recognizing faces. He hopes that one day it will help doctors treat patients whose brains have been damaged by stroke.

“Israel has some of the most phenomenal computational neuroscientists in the world. To link the stuff we are doing here to the stuff in Israel would be fantastic.”
Faster, faster, please.

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