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FIVM Series: Success and failure in Translational Medicine

On Friday, October 21, Dr. Mark Hurtig will discuss studies that exemplify the risks and opportunities for veterinarians developing a career in Translational Medicine

Dr. Mark Hurtig

New therapies for joint disease are presently driven by needs in both human and veterinary medicine, but funds for research and development are often predicated on reaching the high profit human market. As veterinarians, our broad training in medicine makes us ideal partners to the Research and Development Community but are we prepared to protect our own interests and integrity in this fast paced, high stakes game?

Dr. Hurtig, DVM, DACVS, is a Professor in the Department of Clinical Studies at the Ontario Veterinary College and Director of the Canadian Arthritis Network Preclinical Resource Laboratory. On Friday, October 21, he will present two case studies that exemplify the risks and opportunities for veterinarians developing a career in Translational Medicine.

Cargel, a thermogelling polymer for cartilage repair, was a great success for Montreal-based researchers allied with Biosyntech Canada Ltd. until financial woes during pivotal human clinical trials drove the company into receivership. Though Cargel was approved and is presently sold for arthroscopic repair of chondral defects by Smith & Nephew, a series of legal events and business transactions resulted in foreign ownership of the intellectual property and the researchers losing their stake. Even the best trained scientists often lack the business skills to protect their own interests and, so collaboration with a trustworthy business and/or legal group is crucial when developing new intellectual property.

The second case study Dr. Hurtig will discuss will be sustained release formulations of drugs that offer tremendous hope for infectious and chronic diseases.  This study describes the potential for sustained release formulations to solve drug delivery challenges in veterinary and human medicine.

Dr. Hurtig is the director of a Strategic Research Resource Laboratory at the University of Guelph in Canada originally funded by the Canadian Arthritis Network that focuses on animal models and translational studies to facilitate regulatory approval of new therapies for clinical use. His background in large animal surgery and equine musculoskeletal injury has led to industrial and academic collaborations on osteoarthritis mechanisms, disease modifying therapies, and cartilage repair strategies. 

Dr. Hurtig was the primary investigator for two human knee injury research studies centred in Toronto that study factors driving knee OA progression after injury and patient-specific optimization of arthroscopic microfracture—a technique used for cartilage repair.  His work includes collaborations in tissue engineering, regenerative medicine including cell-based therapies, computer-assisted surgery, intra-articular delivery of drug and biologics as well as imaging.