Lay Summary


One project. Many results.

The IGNITE project is focused on helping those with orphan diseases. It is designed to address the issue from a variety of angles, and has five clear goals:

  • Discover the genes responsible for select orphan diseases in Atlantic Canada
  • Pinpoint the molecules most likely to respond to therapeutics
  • Identify drugs to treat these diseases
  • Generate intellectual property for commercial licensing partnering
  • Develop an integrated understanding of the regulations surrounding funding for orphan diseases, attitudes around genetic testing for these diseases, and best practices for providing test results

Powerful tools. Powerful outcomes.

Genomics is a combination of biology, genetics and computer science. It harnesses the power of all three of these disciplines to enable us to discover and better understand our genes and how they impact our development, health and illness.

The IGNITE project is using genomics to find the genes behind these rare diseases. When we find the gene, we are then able to develop highly accurate diagnostic tools to screen patients for the disease. A faster, more reliable diagnosis can lead to more effective treatment, and more efficient use of patient and healthcare time and resources.

Small targets. Big rewards.

One of the activities of the IGNITE project involves finding the molecular pathways that show the most potential to respond to drug treatments. With this information, we can then find the drugs to treat them.

Old drugs. New uses.

The commercial drug development process can take years and hundreds of millions of dollars, making it difficult for pharmaceutical companies to justify investing in drugs that can only be used by small numbers of patients. However, many pharmaceutical companies are now interested in repurposing existing, approved drugs for different diseases.

The IGNITE project is leveraging this interest by focusing on drugs and small molecules that have a desired impact on the molecular pathways impacted by orphan diseases. By identifying these drugs, and then testing them on other organisms, they hope to determine which existing drugs may provide effective treatment for these rare diseases.

As these drugs and molecules have already passed the first phase of clinical trials, the cost and time associated with developing them into approved and commercially available drugs will be significantly reduced.

Human disease. Human issues.

The IGNITE project addresses Genome Canada’s mandate to explore the ethical, economic, environmental, legal and social aspects of the genomics research.

The project will look at regulations around orphan drug funding, attitudes to genetic testing for these disorders, and appropriate methods to provide test results.