June 4, 2018

New guidelines for HER2 testing in breast cancer

An image of the HER2 protein.

Current HER2 tests help predict which breast cancer patients will respond to HER2-targeted therapies, but sometimes these tests provide unclear results. An Expert Panel of pathologists and cancer researchers, including Dr. John Bartlett from OICR, recently published revised clinical practice guidelines for HER2 testing in breast cancer to help improve clarity of HER2 test results.

Continue reading – New guidelines for HER2 testing in breast cancer

January 25, 2018

The Canadian Data Integration Centre receives new funding to help cancer researchers translate findings to patients

CDI - LogoToronto (January 25, 2018) – The Canadian Data Integration Centre (CDIC) has received $6.4 million in funding from Genome Canada to help the research community translate the biological insights gained from genomics research into tangible improvements for cancer patients.

CDIC is a “one-stop shop” service delivery platform for cancer researchers, helping streamline research by providing coordinated expertise on a broad range of services, including data integration, genomics, pathology, biospecimen handling and advanced sequencing technologies. It is an international leader in genomics, bioinformatics and translational research, supporting some of the world’s largest programs in genomic data analysis, genomic and clinical data hosting, cancer data analyses and access, and the development of algorithms for advanced sequencing technology.

Continue reading – The Canadian Data Integration Centre receives new funding to help cancer researchers translate findings to patients

January 12, 2018

Large-scale study provides clearer picture of recurrence risk for ER-positive breast cancer

Dr. John Bartlett

Endocrine therapy uses hormone antagonists to greatly reduce the risk of disease recurrence in women with early-stage, estrogen-receptor (ER) positive breast cancer. However, the treatment can come with severe side effects. Around 30 per cent of women stop taking the therapy after three years largely due to these negative impacts. Usually patients receive the hormone therapy for five years following initial treatment (e.g., chemotherapy, surgery), but it can also be taken longer-term. A central question facing patients and clinicians is how to balance, in their decision making, the side effects of long-term treatment with the potential reduction in recurrence risk. In short, they want to know: ‘is it worth it?’ 

Continue reading – Large-scale study provides clearer picture of recurrence risk for ER-positive breast cancer

May 3, 2017

Study bringing more precision medicine to Ontario’s cancer patients

A technician holds a blood sample and writes down information.

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.

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April 13, 2017

Could diagnosing cancer as rare diseases improve outcomes for patients?

Dr. John Bartlett

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer amongst women in Canada and worldwide, but despite its prevalence, a group of researchers believes that it should often be treated as a rare disease. Doing so would change clinical approaches and improve treatment for patients.

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November 23, 2016

OICR and OMPRN celebrate International Pathology Day with educational events

A technician works in OICR pathology lab

On November 16 OICR and the Ontario Molecular Pathology Research Network (OMPRN) joined other organizations around the world celebrating International Pathology Day.

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November 9, 2016

The next generation: Tamara Jamaspishvili

Tamara Jamaspishvili

Men newly diagnosed with prostate cancer face a difficult dilemma: either wait and see how the growth develops and whether it is aggressive, or treat it fully right away and risk the many long-term side effects of treatment. Dr. Tamara Jamaspishvili is a young researcher at Queen’s University in Kingston who is working to change that.

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November 4, 2016

Beyond the crime scene: You don’t have to be dead to need a pathologist

Cafe Scientifique banner

Dr. John Bartlett, from the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, and Dr. Michelle Downes, from Sunnybrook Health Science Centre, will take you into a world of pathology beyond crime scene investigation and into puzzles more complex than an escape room. They will talk about the future of pathology and how this is changing the face of medicine and why a pathologist is considered ‘the doctor’s doctor’.

The Duke of York Pub – November 16, 6-8 p.m.
39 Prince Arthur Avenue, Toronto
near St. George subway station

Register at Eventbrite >

August 17, 2016

Dr. John Bartlett discusses why new retrospective breast cancer study could lead to better diagnosis and treatment for patients

Fu Yan - In the lab.

OICR has announced a new retrospective study that will help to identify mutations for breast cancer, increasing understanding of the disease and potentially leading to better diagnosis in the future. The study is led by Dr. John Bartlett, Director of OICR’s Transformative Pathology Program and Dr. Harriet Feilotter, Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, Queen’s University. We spoke to Dr. Bartlett about why this study is important for the future of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. 

Continue reading – Dr. John Bartlett discusses why new retrospective breast cancer study could lead to better diagnosis and treatment for patients

August 17, 2016

New retrospective study aims to identify mutations to better diagnose breast cancer in the future

Toronto (August 17, 2016) – Mr. Peter Goodhand, President of The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR), today announced a new collaborative research study in partnership with Thermo Fisher Scientific and Queen’s University to help bring more targeted diagnosis and treatment to breast cancer patients in the future.

Continue reading – New retrospective study aims to identify mutations to better diagnose breast cancer in the future

March 9, 2015

Ontario Institute for Cancer Research scientist wins 2014 Roger Cotton Prize for Histopathology.

TORONTO, ON (March 9, 2015) — Dr. Tom Hudson, President and Scientific Director of The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) today congratulated Mary Anne Quintayo, recipient of the 2014 Roger Cotton Prize for Histopathology for her paper on virtual tissue microarrays. The prize is awarded annually to the best paper published the previous year in the journal Histopathology.

The paper demonstrates that virtual tissue microarrays have many benefits over traditional physical microarrays and constitute an important new tool in digital pathology for both research and clinical settings. Testing was performed on breast cancer samples but the results would be replicable across a broad range of cancers.

“I congratulate Mary Anne Quintayo on this award,” said Dr. Hudson. “Her innovative work has the potential for significant applications to pathology research worldwide, for many different types of cancer. OICR is proud to support this research and delighted with the international recognition it has received.”

“This is an elegant solution to a pathology question and an important new technique for histopathology,” said Dr. John Bartlett, Program Leader of OICR’s Transformative Pathology Program. “This technique provides the opportunity for researchers to perform validation faster, move toward the research environment much more efficiently and to improve the validity of research findings. This allows for more flexibility to analyze many more samples and for researchers to ask more questions of interest.”

“It is contributions from individuals like Mary Anne Quintayo that make Ontario a world leader in cancer research. Her work with virtual tissue microarrays has the potential to significantly impact the lives of patients living with cancer here in Ontario and around the globe. I want to congratulate Quintayo on her award and everyone at OICR for the ground breaking research they do each and every day,” said Reza Moridi, Ontario Minister of Research and Innovation.

This study forms part of an ongoing collaboration addressing challenges relating to early cancer, a key OICR strategic objective. The Improved Management of Early Cancer initiative links multiple research projects to seek to accurately diagnose early cancers, such as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), to avoid overtreatment. This study links researchers at OICR and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in a collaborative network targeting this challenging disease.

Tissue microarrays (TMAs) are an excellent research tool for high throughput analysis of large patient cohorts because they are both economical and rapid. They act as tiny tumour banks on a slide, assisting researchers in analyzing hundreds of samples simultaneously. The challenge for researchers is in knowing how many cores are needed in a particular section to be certain the samples accurately represent the tumour as a whole. The conventional way of doing this is to create and then analyze real microarrays with multiple cores. This can be time consuming for researchers.

Quintayo’s new technique allows researchers to drop virtual cores onto a single slide, representing a computer simulation of multiple TMA cores. It then uses an image analysis system to “mirror” the same cores on sequential sections to assess the impact of creating TMAs across multiple biomarkers using a computer. It does the same work, but faster and more economically than researchers manually constructing multiple replicate TMAs and staining them individually.

The work was published in the January 2014 issue of the journal Histopathology. Histopathology is published on behalf of the British Division of the International Academy of Pathology (BDIAP). The society aims to advance pathology through improving methods of teaching pathology, coordination of pathology with allied sciences and techniques, promoting pathology research and convocation of meetings and congresses to facilitate the exchange of ideas.