London, Ont.-based Cytognomix received a $263,713 grant from the federal government for its work into a technology that allows for speedier diagnosis in radiation exposure.
The specialized software analyzes digital images of cells containing chromosomes exposed to radiation in order to quickly determine how much exposure to radiation a person has received.
The developer of the software says it can be used to quickly triage victims in the event of a nuclear strike, a terrorist attack using a dirty bomb, or even an accident at one of Canada's nuclear power facilities.
Peter Rogan, a professor of biochemistry at Western University and the president of Cytogenomix said scientists have been looking for a way to make genetic analysis for radiation exposure faster for 50 years.
"This is a very manual and labour intensive task and I knew there was a way we could automate this," he said, noting the process that was once performed by a human being in a lab over a course of three hours can now be done by a laptop in 10 minutes.
"If we had some kind of nasty event and 10,000 people needed to be tested because maybe only 9,000 of them were exposed, we can handle that," he said. "Right now nobody else in the world can handle that."
Cytognomix is already working with Health Canada, the International Atomic Energy Agency and U.S. Department of Energy.
"Our goal is to sell this around the world," he said. "We want to see this product everywhere, all over the world in preparation for who knows what?"
"We think the world needs to be ready before it actually happens."