April 19, 2018

Landmark study links tumour evolution to prostate cancer severity

Largest-ever study of its kind uses a tumour’s past to accurately predict its future

Toronto (April 19, 2018) – Findings from Canadian Prostate Cancer Genome Network (CPC-GENE) researchers and their collaborators, published today in Cell, show that the aggressiveness of an individual prostate cancer can be accurately assessed by looking at how that tumour has evolved. This information can be used to determine what type and how much treatment should be given to each patient, or if any is needed at all.

The researchers analyzed the whole genome sequences of 293 localized prostate cancer tumours, linked to clinical outcome data. These were then further analyzed using machine learning, a type of statistical technique, to infer the evolutionary past of a tumour and to estimate its trajectory. They found that those tumours that had evolved to have multiple types of cancer cells, or subclones, were the most aggressive. Fifty-nine per cent of tumours in the study had this genetic diversity, with 61 per cent of those leading to relapse following standard therapy.

Continue reading – Landmark study links tumour evolution to prostate cancer severity

March 6, 2018

Study shows that environmental exposures such as air pollution are more determinant of respiratory health than inherited genetics

Toronto (March 6, 2018) – Researchers have found strong evidence that environmental exposures, including air pollution, affect gene expressions associated with respiratory diseases much more than genetic ancestry. The study, published today in Nature Communications, analyzed more than 1.6 million data points from biological specimens, health questionnaires and environmental datasets, making this study one of the largest ever to examine the relationship between gene expression and environmental stimuli. These findings represent a groundbreaking use of big data to uncover the environmental factors that are behind diseases and inform strategies for prevention, an approach that would apply to a number of diseases, including cancer.

Continue reading – Study shows that environmental exposures such as air pollution are more determinant of respiratory health than inherited genetics

December 4, 2017

OICR launches groundbreaking Cancer Therapeutics Innovation Pipeline to drive cutting-edge therapies to the clinic

Ten new projects were selected in the pipeline’s inaugural funding round, highlighting Ontario’s strengths in collaboration and drug discovery.

Toronto (December 4, 2017) – The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) today announced the Cancer Therapeutics Innovation Pipeline (CTIP) initiative and the first 10 projects selected in CTIP’s inaugural round of funding. CTIP aims to support the local translation of Ontario discoveries into therapies with the potential for improving the lives of cancer patients. The funding will create a new pipeline of promising drugs in development, and attract the partnerships and investment to the province necessary for further clinical development and testing.

“Ontario congratulates OICR on this innovative approach to driving the development of new cancer therapies,” says Reza Moridi, Ontario’s Minister of Research, Innovation and Science. “The Cancer Therapeutics Innovation Pipeline will help ensure that promising discoveries get the support they need to move from lab bench to commercialization, and get to patients faster.”

Continue reading – OICR launches groundbreaking Cancer Therapeutics Innovation Pipeline to drive cutting-edge therapies to the clinic

September 6, 2017

Innovative study brings next-generation genomic sequencing to more Ontario cancer patients

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.

Continue reading – Innovative study brings next-generation genomic sequencing to more Ontario cancer patients

August 15, 2017

New data resource centre will help better understand links between birth defects and childhood cancer

Researchers from the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research playing major role in the design and development of the new initiative.

Toronto (August 15, 2017) – Children with structural birth defects are at a much higher risk of developing certain types of childhood cancers but scientists currently lack vital information about why this occurs.

Continue reading – New data resource centre will help better understand links between birth defects and childhood cancer

January 5, 2017

Researchers disprove link between vasectomies and prostate cancer using Ontario health data

Doctor holding a tick

Are vasectomies safe? Some recent studies have found a link between vasectomies and the development of prostate cancer later in life. But new research using Ontario health data has challenged these studies and shown conclusively that there is no link, giving new peace of mind to those men who have undergone or are considering undergoing the procedure.

Continue reading – Researchers disprove link between vasectomies and prostate cancer using Ontario health data

May 25, 2016

OICR partners with Israeli university to create new cancer genomics and immunity program

Kathleen Wynne and Jeff Courtney

On May 18 an Ontario delegation led by Premier Kathleen Wynne visited Israel and signed several Memoranda of Understanding aimed at facilitating collaboration between Israeli and Ontario institutions.

Continue reading – OICR partners with Israeli university to create new cancer genomics and immunity program

April 6, 2016

Dr. John Dick elected as 2016 Fellow of the AACR Academy

Toronto (April 6, 2016) – Dr. Tom Hudson, President and Scientific Director of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) today congratulated Dr. John Dick on receiving the prestigious honour of being one of 11 newly elected Fellows to the AACR (American Association for Cancer Research) Academy.

Dr. Dick is a Canada Research Chair in Stem Cell Biology and Senior Scientist at the University Health Network’s Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine and Director of the Cancer Stem Cell Program at OICR.

Continue reading – Dr. John Dick elected as 2016 Fellow of the AACR Academy

March 1, 2016

International Cancer Genome Consortium reaches milestone of 1,000 authorized users

TORONTO, March 1, 2016 /CNW/ – The International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) announced today that its Data Access Compliance Office (DACO) authorized its 1,000th user, giving them access to the Consortium’s Controlled Access datasets. This means that more authorized researchers than ever before are accessing ICGC’s Controlled Access data for their research and using these datasets as the foundation for the next generation of cancer diagnostics and treatments.

ICGC datasets that catalogue tumour-specific mutations are unrestricted and freely available to the scientific community. However, the ICGC developed an authorization process to distribute clinical and inherited genetic data associated with unique individuals in order to minimize the risk of identification of donors based on computer analyses of demographic, clinical or genetic data.

Continue reading – International Cancer Genome Consortium reaches milestone of 1,000 authorized users

February 4, 2016

Stand Up To Cancer Canada Announces New Cancer Stem Cell Dream Team To Attack Brain Cancer in Children and Adults

Pan-Canadian Team of Researchers Will Receive CA $11.7 Million in Funding from Stand Up To Cancer Canada, Genome Canada, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Cancer Stem Cell Consortium, and Ontario Institute for Cancer Research

February, 4, 2016—TORONTO—A team of top Canadian scientists, including leading pioneers of stem cell research, was named today to lead a new attack on brain cancers in children and adults, using genomic and molecular profiling technologies to focus on the cancer stem cells that drive the growth of tumours.

“Brain tumours are not as common as many other forms of cancer, but they are devastating, especially when they strike the very young,” said Phillip A. Sharp, PhD, Nobel laureate and institute professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and co-chair of the Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) Canada Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC). “The Dream Team will bring new insights to brain cancer research, which has been an underfunded area.”

Continue reading – Stand Up To Cancer Canada Announces New Cancer Stem Cell Dream Team To Attack Brain Cancer in Children and Adults

October 14, 2015

OICR, UHN, Novera Therapeutics Announce Collaboration with Johnson & Johnson Innovation on Drug Discovery and Development for Haematological Cancers

Research Collaboration and Option and License Agreement Reach Approximately $450 Million Cdn

TORONTO, Oct. 14, 2015 /CNW/ – The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (“OICR”) together with Novera Therapeutics Inc., (“Novera”) have announced a collaboration with Janssen Biotech, LLC (“Janssen”), a Pharmaceutical company of Johnson & Johnson, to accelerate the development of promising small molecule drug candidates for haematological cancers. Novera, a new Ontario biotechnology company, will discover and develop novel therapeutic compounds identified through OICR’s drug discovery program in partnership with University Health Network’s (“UHN”) enabling technology and disease area biology, and coordinate the collaboration with Janssen under a collaboration, license option, and exclusive license agreement (the “agreement”).

Under the agreement, facilitated by Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Novera will receive an upfront payment and is eligible to receive various pre-clinical, clinical, regulatory and commercialization success-based milestone payments up to a total of approximately $450 million Cdn, plus tiered royalties on potential net sales of products.  Janssen has been granted an exclusive option to license, for all human uses worldwide, candidate drug(s) that have been identified and will be advanced through the collaboration.  Janssen will assume responsibility for subsequent pre-clinical, clinical and commercial development once it exercises its option.

As a translational research institute OICR identifies, funds and supports oncology innovations with a goal of improving clinical practice. Leveraging the extensive and renowned research community within Ontario, OICR assembles and coordinates the intellectual resources, management and expertise needed to drive anti-cancer discoveries from bench to bedside.  Novera was established by FACIT, OICR’s commercialization partner, to advance the therapeutics against molecular targets in difficult-to-treat hematological malignancies.

The announced agreement with Janssen is another important example that builds on the translational mandate and vision of OICR, FACIT and Ontario’s Ministry of Research and Innovation (“MRI”).

“Janssen is an excellent partner for this exciting program and we welcome the opportunity to leverage their distinguished development expertise in haematological cancers.  Patients in Ontario and worldwide will benefit from this collaborative and innovative model for translational research,” said Tom Hudson, President of OICR.

“We are pleased with the remarkable achievements of OICR, UHN and FACIT and their continued efforts to translate breakthrough research from the lab to the marketplace. An expanded presence of a health industry leader like Janssen in Ontario — combined with our world-class scientific research — is essential for the province to stay at the forefront of innovation for the benefit of patients and our economy,” said Reza Moridi, Minister of MRI.

“As a worldwide leader in developing breakthrough medicines, Janssen is an ideal partner and an excellent fit with our plan to bring the commercial strengths and experience of multinational pharmaceutical companies to support oncology innovations arising in the Province,” remarked Jeff Courtney, FACIT’s Chief Commercial Officer. “Janssen’s commitment to this program is indicative of the calibre of innovation driving OICR’s Drug Discovery initiatives.”

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 throughoutOntario. For more information, please visit the website at facit.ca or email info@facit.ca.

About University Health Network
University Health Network consists of Toronto General and Toronto Western Hospitals, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, and Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. The scope of research and complexity of cases at University Health Network has made it a national and international source for discovery, education and patient care. It has the largest hospital-based research program in Canada, with major research in cardiology, transplantation, neurosciences, oncology, surgical innovation, infectious diseases, genomic medicine and rehabilitation medicine. University Health Network is a research hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto. www.uhn.ca.

About Novera Therapeutics Inc.
Novera Therapeutics Inc. is a biotherapeutics company focused on developing and commercializing therapies that improve patient outcomes in difficult-to-treat cancers. Established by the Fight Against Cancer Innovation Trust (FACIT), Novera’s drug candidates are derived from discoveries, research and innovations originating from the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) and Toronto’s University Health Network (UHN). For more information, please email info@facit.ca.

September 3, 2015

The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research and the Structural Genomics Consortium develop and give away new drug-like molecule to help crowd-source cancer research

Through a novel open source approach the molecule has been made freely available to the cancer research community to help discover new therapeutic strategies for cancer patients sooner.

TORONTO, ON (September 3, 2015) – Researchers from the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) and the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC) at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto have developed a new drug prototype called OICR-9429 and made it freely available to the research community.  Already research conducted by international groups using OICR-9429 has shown it to be effective in stopping cancer cell growth in breast cancer cell lines and a specific subtype of leukemia cells.

Significant time and resources are required to test new cancer treatments but unfortunately most ideas fail late in the development process and most of the activities are carried out in parallel, without sufficient collaboration. This leads to massive duplication of effort and ultimately increased cost of cancer drugs. By making early stage drug-like compounds such as OICR-9429 available, OICR and the SGC are allowing researchers to more rapidly test new treatment strategies and facilitate sharing of the results. Independent studies from Philadelphia and Vienna have now shown that the cellular target of OICR-9429 may be relevant for drug discovery.

“In the time that it would normally take to negotiate a legal agreement to provide OICR-9429 to other research teams we have received results back from our collaborators showing that it can kill two different types of cancer cells,” says Dr. Cheryl Arrowsmith, Chief Scientist at SGC Toronto. “Opening our chemistry capabilities to the world’s scientists allowed us to crowdsource and accelerate the research.” Dr. Arrowsmith is also a Professor in the Department of Medical Biophysics, Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto and a Senior Scientist, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network.

“It is remarkable how quickly our research results were translated into discoveries by the groups around the world.  This demonstrates that Ontario is a new hub of a global drug discovery effort,” says Dr. Rima Al-awar, Director and Senior Principal Investigator, Drug Discovery Program, OICR. “We are looking forward to seeing more research conducted with OICR-9429 and showing that this new approach to early-stage drug discovery has significant advantages.”

OICR-9429 works to inhibit a protein called WDR5 and two recent studies evaluated its effect on breast cancer and leukemia cell lines and returned encouraging results.

A study led by Dr. Shelly Berger at the University of Pennsylvania used OICR-9429 to stop cancer cell growth in a panel of breast cancer cell lines driven by mutated forms of the gene p53. In its normal form p53 is a tumour-suppressor, however once it is mutated it leads to a ‘gain of function’ and causes cancers to grow though its stimulation of WDR5 function. This research is significant as p53 is mutated in at least half of all cancers and is dysregulated in others.

A team headed by Drs. Florian Grebien and Giulio Superti-Furga at the CeMM Research Center for Molecular Medicine in Vienna, Austria used OICR-9429 to demonstrate the potential of WDR5 as a therapeutic target for leukemia. Their research showed that OICR-9429 stopped the growth of leukemia cells with a very specific mutation found in about nine per cent of patients with acute myeloid leukemia.

These two studies culminated in joint publications, in Nature and Nature Chemical Biology respectively, between the international researchers and the Ontario-based OICR and SGC teams.

“I applaud this innovative partnership between OICR and SGC and their collaborative efforts to catalyze cancer research worldwide,” says Reza Moridi, Ontario Minister of Research and Innovation. “Collaboration, both at home in Ontario and abroad, is key to driving scientific discoveries and ultimately delivering better care to cancer patients.”

OICR-9429 is just one in a series of drug-like compounds developed by the SGC that are enabling a new approach to early-stage drug discovery. The SGC and OICR teams are continuing their collaboration to identify additional drug-like molecules to advance cancer drug discovery.

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