August 7, 2018

Data integration for the future of precision oncology

CDIC Banner images

Big data are ushering in a new era of individualized cancer care and prevention, but not without conceptual and practical challenges. Canadian advances in genomics will be made by or limited by bioinformatics analytical capacity as well as the ability to store and analyze data in new and more sophisticated ways.

To help realize the potential of genomics research in cancer, the Canadian Data Integration Centre (CDIC) platform, led by OICR, offers third generation bioinformatics and genomics tools to support both functional and clinical genomics research. CDIC is the largest academic cancer informatics program in the country – offering customizable, client-oriented access services for data challenges across diverse research areas.

Continue reading – Data integration for the future of precision oncology

July 10, 2018

Researchers find early indicators of leukemia in genomes up to 10 years before symptoms surfaced

Immature blood cells in leukemia

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) progresses quickly and requires treatment soon after diagnosis, but the disease begins long before becoming symptomatic. Early indicators of AML were thought to be indistinguishable from healthy aging. But now, an international group of researchers led in part by Dr. Sagi Abelson, a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. John Dick at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, has discovered distinctive traces of AML in patients up to 10 years before they were diagnosed with the disease.

Continue reading – Researchers find early indicators of leukemia in genomes up to 10 years before symptoms surfaced

October 20, 2017

Old drug, new trick: study finds common diabetes drug could help fight leukemia

Researchers have discovered a new potential treatment for acute myeloid leukemia (AML). They found that boosting fat cells (adipocytes) within bone marrow with the use of a common diabetes drug slowed the growth of cancerous cells and promoted the regeneration of healthy blood cells.

Continue reading – Old drug, new trick: study finds common diabetes drug could help fight leukemia

July 11, 2017

New multi-disciplinary team taking a stem cell-based approach to target acute leukemia

TEchnicians work in a stem cell research lab.

The rising use of stem cell-based therapies has illustrated the power of stem cells to treat a number of diseases. Now a group of Ontario researchers are looking at the promise of stem cells from a different perspective. Amongst other efforts, they are developing and testing new therapies that target and kill leukemic stem cells to lessen the chances of acute leukemias (AL) coming back following standard treatment.

Continue reading – New multi-disciplinary team taking a stem cell-based approach to target acute leukemia

June 28, 2017

Ontario researchers identify rare therapy-resistant stem cells linked to AML patient relapse

By combining new knowledge from the fields of stem cell biology and genetics, a group of Ontario researchers led by Dr. John Dick have solved the mystery of why some acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients relapse after initial treatment.

Continue reading – Ontario researchers identify rare therapy-resistant stem cells linked to AML patient relapse

May 25, 2017

OICR launches five all-star teams of Ontario scientists to tackle some of the deadliest forms of cancer

People from the press conference

Great strides have been made in cancer research, but much work remains to develop better treatments for the most lethal cancers and to advance new anti-cancer technologies. OICR is taking on a new approach, building on the success of the Institute’s first ten years and Ontario’s strength in particular cancer research areas. Reza Moridi, Ontario’s Minister of Research, Innovation and Science announced that the Institute is funding five collaborative, cross-disciplinary and inter-institutional Translational Research Initiatives (TRIs) with a total of $24 million over the next two years.

The TRIs will bring together some of the top cancer researchers in Ontario and be led by internationally renowned Ontario scientists. Each team will focus on a certain type of cancer or therapeutic technology. To maximize the positive impact of research on patients, the TRIs all incorporate clinical trials into their design. The TRIs, which were selected by an International Scientific Review Panel, are:

The funding will also support Early Prostate Cancer Developmental Projects led by Drs. Paul Boutros and George Rodriguez.

“In just over 10 years, the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research has become a global centre of excellence that is moving the province to the forefront of discovery and innovation in cancer research. It is home to outstanding Ontario scientists, who are working together to ease the burden of cancer in our province and around the world,” said Moridi.

“Collaboration and translational research are key to seeing that the innovative technologies being developed in Ontario reach the clinic and help patients,” said Mr. Peter Goodhand, President of OICR. “These TRIs represent a unique and significant opportunity to impact clinical cancer care in the province.”

Read the news release: OICR launches five large-scale Ontario research initiatives to combat some of the most deadly cancers

May 25, 2017

OICR launches five large-scale Ontario research initiatives to combat some of the most deadly cancers

Minister for Research, Innovation and Science

Toronto (May 25, 2017) – Reza Moridi, Ontario’s Minister of Research, Innovation and Science, today announced the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research is launching five unique, cross-disciplinary, multi-institutional Translational Research Initiatives (TRIs), each focused on a single type of or treatment approach to cancer. With $24 million in funding over two years, the TRIs will bring together world-leading scientists to tackle some of the most difficult to treat cancers and test innovative solutions to some of the most serious challenges in cancer today.

The TRIs build on Ontario’s proven strengths in areas such as stem cells, immuno-oncology, pediatric cancers, genomics, clinical trials and informatics. Working together, the province’s top scientists and clinicians will accelerate the development of much needed solutions for patients around the globe, with a focus on acute leukemia and brain, ovarian and pancreatic cancers. Each TRI includes clinical trials to maximize patient impact.

Continue reading – OICR launches five large-scale Ontario research initiatives to combat some of the most deadly cancers

April 25, 2017

Dr. John Dick presented with CIHR Gold Leaf Award for Discovery

Dr. John Dick

Dr. John Dick was recognized for his pioneering research in cancer stem cells with the presentation of the CIHR Gold Leaf Award for Discovery. He was the first scientist in the world to confirm their existence. Better understanding of cancer stem cells has the potential to lead to new treatments, ultimately resulting in improved patient outcomes.

Continue reading – Dr. John Dick presented with CIHR Gold Leaf Award for Discovery

December 7, 2016

Cancer stem cell scientists create tool to aid in planning treatment for leukemia

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is the most common form of acute leukemia in adults and is one of the most deadly. Although AML is treated as a single disease, patient response to intensive curative-intent chemotherapy varies. It is currently difficult to predict who will do well with standard treatment, and who will not benefit from standard treatment and might do better enrolling in a clinical trial where they may be offered novel therapies.

Continue reading – Cancer stem cell scientists create tool to aid in planning treatment for leukemia

August 9, 2016

Patients need access to more stem cells for transplants. Researchers have now identified the genetic switch that could turn on the supply

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Researchers at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, funded in part by OICR, have found a genetic switch that could be used to develop many more stem cells from the blood found in umbilical cords, a resource that is highly valuable for stem cell transplants but still in short supply.

Continue reading – Patients need access to more stem cells for transplants. Researchers have now identified the genetic switch that could turn on the supply

May 5, 2016

A new method to grow stem cells for cancer patients

Stem Cell

Researchers uncovered the role of a protein called Musashi-2 in regulating the function and development of stem cells. The improved understanding of the role of Musashi-2 will allow researchers to employ new strategies to control the growth of blood stem cells which are used to treat many life-threatening diseases, but are usually in short supply. The research was published in April in the journal Nature.

Continue reading – A new method to grow stem cells for cancer patients

December 8, 2015

FACIT Gains Rights to WDR5 Inhibitors for MLL Leukemia

First-in-class epigenetic modifiers discovered by OICR positioned for collaborative development

TORONTO, Dec. 8, 2015 /CNW/ – Fight Against Cancer Innovation Trust (“FACIT”) announced the acquisition of exclusive rights to a portfolio of first-in-class WDR5 inhibitors for the treatment of mixed lineage leukemia (MLL).  A series of proprietary small molecule inhibitors were optimized based on the discovery of a chemical probe for WDR5.  The original WDR5 probe (OICR-9429) was developed by drug discovery scientists at the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (“OICR”), Structural Genomics Consortium (“SGC”) and other collaborators.  As with other technologies within the portfolio, FACIT will be responsible for stewarding commercialization activities for the assets and leveraging development expertise within the OICR network.

MLL1 deregulation is reported in both acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML), and is also common in a variety of solid cancers. The WDR5 protein is critical for the formation and epigenetic activities of MLL1-associated methylation complexes. The series of epigenetic modifiers discovered by OICR target protein-protein interactions within the WDR5/MLL1 complex, and thereby disrupts methylation activities.

“Mixed Lineage Leukemia is an aggressive childhood cancer, making the team highly motivated to accelerate the development of these first-in-class WDR5 inhibitors.  We are currently exploring opportunities with strategic pharmaceutical partners, investors and of course, ongoing work with the innovative drug discovery scientists at OICR,” said Jeff Courtney, Chief Commercial Officer of FACIT.

“With the growing recognition of the importance of epigenetic signalling, potent and selective small molecules targeting the WDR5/MLL1 interface present a potential therapeutic intervention in leukemias and some p53/myc-driven cancers.  Upcoming healthcare conferences are a timely opportunity to implement our partnering strategy for this promising set of inhibitors as we seek to leverage private sector investment,” remarked David O’Neill, Vice President of Business Development at FACIT.

About WDR5
WDR5 is a scaffolding protein essential for assembly of epigenetic MLL1-associated methyltransferase complexes and proper histone modification, the dysregulation of which is strongly implicated in MLL leukemia. In addition to its importance in MLL leukemia, deregulation of WDR5 itself has been observed in bladder cancer, where overexpression correlates with poor patient survival. MLL1 mutations are common in a variety of solid cancers, including breast, colon, lung, and bladder.

About OICR
OICR is an innovative cancer research and development institute dedicated to prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The Institute is an independent, not-for-profit corporation, supported by the Government of Ontario. OICR and its funding partners support research programs that involve more than 1,700 investigators, clinician scientists, research staff and trainees in research institutes and in universities across the Province of Ontario as well as at its headquarters. OICR has key research program efforts underway in small molecules, biologics, stem cells, imaging, genomics, informatics and bio-computing. For more information, please visit the website at www.oicr.on.ca.

About FACIT
FACIT (Fight Against Cancer Innovation Trust) is an independent business entity established by the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR)  to undertake and accelerate development and commercialization activities related to breakthrough cancer research, products and drug discovery from OICR and throughout Ontario. For more information, please visit the website at facit.ca or email info@facit.ca.

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