Amir Sanati-Nezhad

Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Schulich School of Engineering
Tier II Canada Research Chair, Bio-Micro/electromechanical Systems (BioMEMS)

Dr. Sanati-Nezhad’s research focuses on the development of integrated bioinspired microdevices using microfluidics, biosensors and tissue engineering approaches for disease modeling, biological systems modeling, and drug discovery. This research has commercial potential by developing new assays to address the challenges to detect, monitor, and screen molecules and bioparticles that are sensitive and selective.

Dr. Sanati-Nezhad holds five international patents, licensed two technologies, and has extensive innovation experience in the biomedical engineering field. Dr. Sanati-Nezhad and his research team have created a number of sensing start-ups to advance research technologies that can be embedded within profitable products.

Established in 2018, XoTech Aspect Inc. supports innovative technology to isolate and detect cancer exosomes in urine and blood for early detection for bladder and lung cancers. The team has support from the Canary Foundation with the aim of making this device clinically for cancer diagnosis and screening. A translation grant application is currently being reviewed by the Alberta Cancer Foundation to clinically validate this technology.

Dr. Sanati-Nezhad is the co-founder of OfBrains, a start-up committed to developing the first Parkinson’s Disease (PD) diagnostic tool using team biomarker proteins in tear samples from PD patients. Private investment is aiding the development of an assay for rapid PD diagnosis. Clinical validation is supported by Dr. Davide Martion, Director, Movement Disorder Program at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary.

Developed by their technical team, Criticare DX is a start-up with the only combined capillary microfluidics and electrochemical nano-biosensors in the world, developing a few different point of care platforms to detect various biomarkers in the blood of patients with brain injuries, cancer, and infection. To date, the technology has demonstrated 88 per cent clinical sensitivity and 85 per cent selectivity for the detection of brain injuries. This research is supported by NSERC, Mitacs, Discovery Grants, Engage and Dr. Sanati-Nezhad’s Canada Research Chair (CRC). With the support of CIHR COVID-19, Criticare Dx will adopt its technology for developing new home-based digital health diagnostic and monitoring biosensors in order to rapidly detect and monitor COVID-19 for population screening. He also lends his expertise to CardiaI, which develops electrochemical sensors as an in-vitro diagnostic tool for rapid detection of heart diseases and COVID-19.

Dr. Sanati-Nezhad and his research team created two start-ups supporting biosensor technology for rapid detection of bacteria and antibiotic supportability testing. He is a co-founder of  Wireless Fluidics, which develops the innovation microfluidic-microwave sensing technologies for biomedical and energy applications.

To address the Rapid Response to COVID-19, Dr. Sanati Nezhad’s team rapidly developed IP-protected Canadian swabs (called MapleSwab) needed for the use of diagnostic kits for detection of COVID-19 patients. His company Shapetry Labs Inc., received Health Canada authorization to use MapleSwabs in Canada. Their new MapleSwab-Nano is coated with an exceptional nanomaterial which significantly improved the performance of sample collection.

With his Innovation Fellowship, Dr. Sanati-Nezhad plans to expedite the technology transition from the lab by defining a clear business vision for the product or service and identifying stakeholders and customers. By accessing business and technology expertise from the Life Sciences and Innovation Hub (LSIH) and the Haskayne School of Business, Dr. Sanati-Nezhad will have additional support with assessing health technology, risk assessments, and training on technology scale-up advise.

Additionally, he will continue to mentor his team as they work through the regulatory processes with Health Canada and the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to secure approvals for various products supported by their start-ups. This includes establishing a network of consultants and advisors to help post-doc trainees and graduate students develop pitch presentations and communication skills to increase the chance of receiving funding from government and investors. Students will learn the valuation skills needed to transition their ideas from the research lab to a sustainable business.

Dr. Amir Sanati-Nezhad

My goal is to combine our local innovations in engineering and biomedical technologies with the entrepreneurship and regulatory experiences of the experts in this field to establish breakthrough and game-changing electronic-health (e-health) monitoring systems. This will contribute to the biomedical sector in Calgary, the innovation and entrepreneurial hub, and benefit Alberta and Canada in developing and commercializing a health technology strategy.

Dr. Amir Sanati-Nezhad, PhD