Latest information and updates about COVID-19 from McMaster University:   Course Outlines & Plans COVID-19 Website

Latest information and updates about COVID-19 from McMaster University:

Scientists map elusive toxic proteins linked to Alzheimer’s, providing new molecular clues for prevention

Rashik Ahmed, lead author and PhD candidate in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences with Giuseppe Melacini, senior author and a professor in the Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. Photo by: Georgia Kirkos, McMaster University.


JUNE 20, 2019

A team of researchers from McMaster University has mapped at atomic resolution a toxic protein linked to Alzheimer’s disease, allowing them to better understand what is happening deep within the brain during the earliest stages of the disease.    

The findings, published on the front cover of the current edition of the Royal Society of Chemistry flagship journal Chemical Science, provide new insights into the behavior of one of the prime suspects of Alzheimer’s disease: a protein fragment known as amyloid beta, which clumps together into oligomers during the early stages of the disease. 

Researchers liken amyloid beta oligomers to a neurotoxic ‘bomb’, causing the irreversible death of neurons.

“To defuse the bomb, we need to know with a high degree of precision which wires to cut and which to avoid,” explains Giuseppe Melacini, senior author and a professor in the Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Biology as well as Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences at McMaster University. 

“This is why it is critical to map the structural features that differentiate what is toxic and what is not. However, this is a challenging task due to the transient and elusive nature of these oligomers,” he says.

Melacini, who has studied the underlying mechanisms of Alzheimer’s for nearly two decades, is working with a team of physicists, chemists, biologists and dementia specialists at McMaster, including Maikel Rheinstädter, Richard Epand, Ryan Wylie and Chris Verschoor. Each team member brings a unique perspective and specialty to an investigation which requires highly specialized equipment, including wide-angle X-ray diffraction and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to conduct the analysis at the atomic level. 

For the study, the team used a library of natural products extracted from green tea that are believed to interfere with the formation of the toxic protein oligomers to varying degrees. Using this toolkit they were able to build oligomers with different toxicities, allowing the team to gain unprecedented insights into how they interact with neurons and cause cell death. 

They hope this research can help them determine how to defuse the neurotoxic bomb.

“Alzheimer’s disease is a major medical, social and economic problem,” says Rashik Ahmed, the lead author on the paper and PhD candidate in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences. “This research is the first step towards identifying how we can stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease before it becomes irreparable.”

By some estimates, there are more than half a million Canadians living with dementia and the number is expected to reach more than a million by the year 2031. Once symptoms emerge, there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s and treatment options are limited.

Three McMaster researchers receive grants for “high-risk, fast-breaking” research

From left to right: Alexander Hynes, Ryan Wylie and Joyce Obeid


 MAY 13, 2019

 Three McMaster researchers have received funds from the Government of Canada’s New Frontiers in Research Fund.

Joyce Obeid and Alexander Hynes, both of the Faculty of Health Sciences, and Ryan Wylie, of the Faculty of Science, will each receive up to $250,000 over the next two years.

Joyce Obeid is an assistant professor in the department of pediatrics. Her research focuses on cardiovascular health in children with chronic health conditions, such as kidney disease, cystic fibrosis, or juvenile arthritis.

Alexander Hynes’ research looks at the role of bacteriophages – viruses that specifically infect bacteria – in shaping the body’s bacterial populations, notably the gut microbiome. He is an assistant professor in the gastroenterology division of the department of medicine.

Ryan Wylie, an assistant professor in the department of chemistry and chemical biology, works on developing materials for biomedical applications, including cancer immunotherapeutics.

The New Frontiers in Research Fund, which launched May 13, 2019, supports “high-risk, high-reward interdisciplinary and international research…to help Canadian researchers make the next great discoveries in their fields” specifically for researchers within the first five years of their first academic appointment, according to a Government of Canada press release.

“As society evolves, and the complexity of the challenges we face increases, so must our means of doing research evolve,” says Ted Hewitt, chair of the Canada Research Coordinating Committee, which designed the fund, and president of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. “Through this program, we are truly paving the way for our emerging researchers to expand their horizons, work across disciplines and borders, and to take risks and deliver outcomes that will benefit Canadians now and well into the future.”

Renovations and addition to Arthur Bourns Building complete

A researcher in a lab coat sits in front of an exhaust hood in a lab

Peter Ho, a PhD candidate in chemistry, sits in the newly renovated labs in the Arthur Bourns Building.


 APRIL 18, 2019

A 45,000 square-foot addition, improved energy conservation and enriched science and engineering research facilities characterize the now-completed renovations to McMaster’s Arthur Bourns Building.

Filomena Tassi, minister of seniors and MPP for Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas, was on-hand to mark the completion at a short ceremony on April 18.   

“Our investments in McMaster University have helped to make McMaster one of Canada’s most research-intensive universities,” said Tassi. “The improvements to the Arthur Bourns Building will help students and researchers advance innovation in our community and across Canada.”

A group of seven people stand in front of McMaster banners
From left: Mary Williams, VP University Advancement, McMaster University; Gillian Goward, chair, McMaster Department of Chemistry; Bob Bratina, MP, Hamilton East-Stoney Creey; Patrick Deane, president, McMaster University; Filomena Tassi, MP, Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas; Maureen McDonald, dean, McMaster Faculty of Science; Ishwar Puri, dean, McMaster Faculty of Engineering

The project marked the largest government investment in laboratories and research capacity in the university’s history, with contributions from both the federal and provincial governments as well as Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator.

Through its Postsecondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund, the federal government contributed $37.5 million, while the Government of Ontario provided $5.5 million. The university itself invested $24.3 million, and the IESO gave a further $7.6 million, for a total of $75 million.

Along with the new addition, the project involved extensive renovations to existing spaces and completing deferred maintenance projects. The addition was built to LEED-Silver specifications.

“McMaster is creating a brighter world through its research, teaching and local and global impact,” said McMaster President Patrick Deane. “These amazing new labs and spaces mean our students and researchers will be able to work together in new ways to find answers to the critically important issues facing Canada and our world. Our sincerest thanks to the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario for their outstanding support in making this happen.”

PhD candidate Peter Ho.

The periodic table in the lobby of the new ABB addition.
Artwork of the periodic table

The project included 45,000 square feet of new space, as well as extensive renovations to existing facilities.


Hamilton-based McMaster start-up secures $105M (USD) to commercialize potential cancer treatment

From left to right, John Valliant, Fusion’s Chief Executive Officer, with Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, at the announcement of $105 million USD in funding for Fusion Pharmaceuticals. Photo by Georgia Kirkos.

Fusion Pharmaceuticals, a biopharmaceutical company founded at McMaster University and based at the McMaster Innovation Park (MIP), has secured $105M (USD) in private financing to help advance a new approach to cancer therapy based on its ground-breaking research.

This new round of funding, which follows earlier investments of $46M (USD), comes from an international syndicate of leading investors. The funds will help advance the work of the company, including growing its operations in Hamilton.

The company was spun off from the Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization (CPDC), which is located at McMaster. Fusion’s Chief Executive Officer is John Valliant, a professor of chemistry and chemical biology at McMaster.

“We have made tremendous progress in the last two years and this financing reflects strong support for our work, our people and product pipeline,” Valliant says. “With this investment, we will be able to broaden our team and clinical program and accelerate our strategies to develop new therapies.”

Fusion’s lead product is designed to seek out and infiltrate cancer cells and deliver a lethal and highly localized dose of radiation. Its aim is to target and damage the very DNA of the cancer cells so they cannot grow back. It is designed to attack drug-resistant tumours that do not respond to traditional therapies, which may include lung, prostate, breast and colorectal cancers.

“This is a remarkable accomplishment by our colleagues at Fusion,” says Rob Baker, McMaster vice-president, research. “First and foremost, their work has the potential to improve the health and well-being of many cancer patients. It’s also a true indicator that the plan to grow Hamilton’s life sciences sector by commercializing McMaster’s research is achieving real results.”

The Series B financing is being led by lead investors Varian and OrbiMed and includes US, Canadian, Irish and Swedish investors.

“The world is learning that Hamilton is a great place to grow a life sciences business,” says Ty Shattuck, CEO of the McMaster Innovation Park. “Fusion Pharmaceuticals is a homegrown global success story and it paves the way for even more growth and opportunity in this sector for Hamilton and our business community.”

It’s been a year of great accomplishment for Fusion. In 2018, it was recognized as Ontario’s Life Sciences Company of the Year. The award recognizes an Ontario-based company that demonstrates strong leadership and is achieving significant milestones in life sciences research and development and is working to commercialize innovative products.

For full story see here:
Go Back
McMaster University - Faculty of Science | Chemistry & Chemical Biology