June 14, 2018
New OICR President and Scientific Director comments on breakthroughs in breast cancer T-cell immunotherapy
For the first time, a patient’s late-stage breast cancer has been successfully treated with T-cell immunotherapy. This cutting-edge approach, which is currently in clinical trials in the U.S., modified the patient’s naturally-occurring immune cells to fight her tumours that had spread throughout her body. The patient has been cancer free for the past two years and her remarkable tumour regression represents the potential impact of this new immunotherapeutic approach.
March 6, 2018
VANCOUVER – Canadian pancreatic cancer researchers are joining forces under a Terry Fox initiative bringing new hope for patients with this deadly disease.
“For many years it’s been hopeless from a patient perspective, and we are hoping to help shift this,” says Dr. Daniel Renouf (BC Cancer, University of British Columbia) who, along with Dr. David Schaeffer (UBC, Vancouver General Hospital), is leading a $5-million pan-Canadian, precision medicine initiative recently funded by the Terry Fox Research Institute.
A lack of early detection tests. Few known symptoms. Very limited treatment options. No known biomarkers that can be used to direct therapy. These are among the clinical challenges team EPPIC, short for Enhanced Pancreatic Cancer Profiling for Individualized Care, is tackling over the next five years to improve personalized treatments for patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), a disease with just a nine per cent five-year survival rate.
“Our project focuses on metastatic cancer versus surgically resectable primary tumours, because this is the clinical problem we see most often,” says Dr. Schaeffer, noting a priority is to discern if the metastatic and primary tumour differ in their genetic make-up. Four out of five patients have metastatic cancer at the time of diagnosis and most will succumb within a year.
Patients are very keen to participate in the research study. “My push is to keep the support coming for the research, and to bring hope to other pancreatic cancer patients. This is a disease that needs more hope,” says Susan Stewart, 57, a North Vancouver resident who was diagnosed with Stage IV terminal pancreatic cancer in January 2017. She was enrolled immediately in EPPIC as well as a clinical trial where she received an experimental therapy. Although it is early days yet, her results today are promising. Her pancreatic cancer tumour is no longer visible on CT scans, and the metastatic cancer on her liver has shrunk considerably. Her doctors are using the EPPIC results to try and understand why her tumour has had such an incredible response to the experimental treatment.
The EPPIC team aims to sequence metastatic pancreatic tumours of 400 patients in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. They hope to improve understanding of pancreatic cancer biology to individualize treatment strategies, and to facilitate the development of new treatment options.
This project is currently under way in Toronto and Vancouver, through two clinical trials (COMPASS and PanGen), and will be expanded shortly to include eligible patients in Kingston, Ottawa, Calgary, and Edmonton. The Montreal site opens this week. Genomic sequencing and bioinformatics analyses of patient tumours will be conducted at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) and the BC Cancer Genome Sciences Centre.
“This funding will allow us to bring leading-edge pancreatic cancer research to more Canadian patients and further advance our understanding how to best treat advanced pancreatic cancer,” says Dr. Steven Gallinger, Leader of OICR’s PanCuRx Translational Research Initiative, which supports the COMPASS trial. “Collaborating with the other research groups will more rapidly result in more robust findings that can help us accelerate the development of new treatment options.”
The team will also store and analyze the genomic and clinical data collected in a knowledge bank that will be shared by Canadian and international researchers seeking ways to improve treatment. The bank will be the first of its kind in Canada.
Dr. Victor Ling, TFRI president and scientific director, is thrilled TFRI is funding this high-calibre precision medicine team to tackle such a hard-to-treat cancer. “Pancreatic cancer research has been historically underfunded, and we are very excited to be expanding such a successful personalized medicine project to patients across Canada. We hope precision medicine may hold the key to finding better treatments for this incurable disease.”
EPPIC’s multidisciplinary team comprises clinicians and scientists from BC Cancer, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, University of British Columbia, University of Calgary, University of Alberta, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network, OICR, McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and the Research Institute of MUHC, Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal, Queen’s University and the Ottawa Hospital.
In addition to Drs. Renouf and Schaeffer, other principal investigators of EPPIC and the COMPASS and PanGen trials are: Dr. Jennifer Knox and Steven Gallinger (Princess Margaret Cancer Centre/UHN/ OICR), Dr. George Zogopoulos (MUHC/Research Institute of MUHC/McGill University), and Dr. Oliver Bathe (Tom Baker Cancer Center, University of Calgary). Many of the team’s investigators are members of PancOne™, an initiative of Pancreatic Cancer Canada (PCC).
TFRI’s investment in EPPIC also builds on funding from BC Cancer Foundation, OICR, Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation, PCC and VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation.
About The Terry Fox Research Institute (TFRI)
Launched in October 2007, The Terry Fox Research Institute is the brainchild of The Terry Fox Foundation and today functions as its research arm. TFRI seeks to improve significantly the outcomes of cancer research for the patient through a highly collaborative, team-oriented, milestone-based approach to research that will enable discoveries to translate quickly into practical solutions for cancer patients worldwide. TFRI collaborates with more than 80 cancer hospitals and research organizations across Canada. TFRI headquarters are in Vancouver, B.C. For more information please visit www.tfri.ca and follow us on Twitter (@tfri_research).
Katelyn Verstraten, 604-675-8000 ext. 7630; 604-358-8898 (cell) email@example.com
Kelly Curwin, 604-675-8223; 778-237-8158 (cell) firstname.lastname@example.org
September 6, 2017
Toronto (September 6, 2017) – Understanding a cancer’s genetics is key to selecting targeted therapies that are likely to be of the most benefit to a patient. The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) today announced a new study, called Ontario-wide Cancer TArgeted Nucleic Acid Evaluation (OCTANE). OCTANE will use next-generation genome sequencing technology to bring a unified molecular profiling approach to five Ontario cancer centres.
May 3, 2017
The advent of genomic sequencing and targeted therapies has opened the door to new ways of diagnosing and treating cancer. The Ontario-wide Cancer Targeted Nucleic Acid Evaluation (OCTANE) program is a new, province-wide initiative supported by OICR that will allow more patients to benefit from these innovations while also helping to advance cancer research in Ontario.
October 21, 2016
OICR-led study finds four unique genomic signatures in pancreas cancer, uncovers potential of immunotherapies
Pancreas cancer is one of the most aggressive and deadly forms of the disease. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, only 8 percent of pancreas cancer patients survive more than five years after diagnosis. OICR’s PanCuRx Translational Research Initiative has recently published the results of an international collaboration that increases understanding of this complex disease and how to treat it based on a patient’s unique profile.
June 21, 2016
Cancer drugs help millions of people every year by assisting them in living longer or by reducing side effects or symptoms. In some cases, cancer drugs can even prevent cancers from developing. But cancer drugs take a long time to carefully develop and test, and the process is expensive. We asked Dr. David Uehling, Scientific Advisor and Group Leader, Medicinal Chemistry Group in the Drug Discovery Program at OICR, to help explain the process and its challenges.
June 1, 2016
Dr. Laurence Klotz of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre is a world leader in the field of prostate cancer research. He has been a champion of active surveillance (also known as watchful waiting) for over 20 years, an approach to prostate cancer treatment that has allowed thousands of men with low-risk prostate cancer to avoid or delay therapy by monitoring it closely instead of immediately treating it.
Now Klotz has launched a new clinical trial called PRECISE, funded with $3 million in support by the Movember Foundation, the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research and Prostate Cancer Canada, that will use MRI to help to better diagnose prostate cancer without invasive biopsy.
May 20, 2016
The first clinical trial was not carried-out in a hospital or clinic; rather it was conducted on the ships of the British Royal Navy while at sea. On May 20, 1747, Dr. James Lind, a Scottish naval surgeon, published his findings on several remedies for scurvy and with that established one of the most important tools in health research today – the clinical trial.
May 19, 2016
Clinical trials are an essential part of the healthcare system, giving patients access to cutting-edge treatments and providing researchers with concrete information about how these new treatments work in the clinic. To mark International Clinical Trials Day tomorrow, we spoke with Karen Arts, Executive Director of the Canadian Cancer Clinical Trials Network (3CTN) about the importance of clinical trials and how patients and their families can find out more about them.
What are clinical trials?
Clinical trials are a formal way to evaluate if a new treatment, which could be a medication or other type of therapy, is better than what is currently used to treat a condition or disease. Cancer clinical trials are important because that is how the effectiveness of new cancer treatments are tested and establish whether they should be adopted as new standard treatments for cancer patients.
May 4, 2016
Clinical trials have helped millions. Yet most patients still aren’t aware that they may be eligible for a clinical trial and that enrolling in a trial could help them.
The first step in addressing this problem is to get a conversation started between patients and their health care providers, which is why this month the Canadian Cancer Clinical Trials Network (3CTN) launched the Ask Me Campaign in hospitals across Canada.
The Ask Me Campaign takes a low-tech, one-on-one approach to the problem. Using posters in clinics and buttons for health care providers to wear when seeing patients, the program has a simple goal: to let people know that asking questions about trials is OK.
May 4, 2016
The Canadian Cancer Clinical Trials Network launches Ask Me Campaign to raise awareness of cancer clinical trials
TORONTO, ON (May 4, 2016) — Dr. Janet Dancey, Scientific Director of the Canadian Cancer Clinical Trials Network (3CTN) announced today the roll out of a new national campaign to raise awareness of cancer clinical trials in Canada ahead of International Clinical Trials Day on May 20.
The Ask Me Campaign will be introduced at more than 60 cancer centres across Canada and include hospital staff wearing “Ask Me” buttons, as well as posters and brochures placed in hospitals. These will be used to encourage patients to engage their healthcare team in a conversation about clinical trials and see if a trial may be a treatment option for them. The ultimate goal is to increase awareness about, and enrolment in, cancer clinical trials in Canada.
January 9, 2016
3CTN-funded clinical trial to test new method of finding genomic changes in patients with aggressive prostate cancer
The Canadian Cancer Clinical Trials Network (3CTN) is pleased to announce, in collaboration with Janssen Canada, funding of $500,000 to a study led by Dr. Kim Chi of the Vancouver Prostate Centre and the BC Cancer Agency. The study will evaluate the use of cell-free (or cfDNA) profiling to identify genomic alterations in patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC), the lethal form of prostate cancer that has become resistant to hormone treatments.