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Ontario Explores Cancer-Fighting Potential Of Local Plant

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Ontario Explores Cancer-Fighting Potential Of Local Plant

McGuinty Government Supports Sault Biotechnology Project

Ontario is supporting research of Canada yew, otherwise known as ground hemlock, which could lead to the production of an anticancer treatment drug.

Under its Emerging Technology Program, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) is providing $42,150 to Biosphere Labs Inc. to establish a pilot facility in Sault Ste. Marie. The facility will develop methods to extract the natural compounds of yew to produce Paclitaxel, a drug used in the treatment of certain cancers.

Through this program, the NOHFC provides financial assistance to the private and public sectors to develop exciting and viable new technologies that will contribute to future northern prosperity.

Quick Facts

  • Canada yew, also known as eastern yew or ground hemlock, is a low-spreading and relatively slow-growing shrub found in northeastern North American woods.
  • The NOHFC provided funding of $117,750 to a number of partners in the Algoma area in 2004 to evaluate the potential for growing Canada yew. They concluded that Canada yew can be grown successfully on plantations in Northern Ontario, with the best growth occurring in plants treated with mulch and compost. There is currently one yew plantation remaining in the Algoma region.

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“This investment will help researchers tap into northern forests to create medication that could treat cancer. Our government recognizes that this initiative has the potential to improve patient care while expanding the biomedical economy in Sault Ste. Marie.”

David Orazietti

MPP for Sault Ste. Marie

“Our government is committed to helping northern communities tap into the economic benefits new industries such as this one bring to Ontario.”

Michael Gravelle

Minister of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry and Chair of the NOHFC

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