February 18, 2020

Tackling brain cancer from all angles

Dr. Jüri Reimand

The Terry Fox Research Institute (TFRI) announced today that Dr. Jüri Reimand, OICR Investigator, has been granted the Terry Fox New Investigator Award to support his research into the evolution of glioblastoma, a deadly brain cancer that often recurs after treatment, with no long-term cure.

“This is a terrible disease with a dismal prognosis. It is usually fatal within a year or two after diagnosis and current therapies mostly fail to halt its recurrence and progress,” says Reimand. “We are taking a data-driven approach to see if we can change the tide on this disease by mapping the evolutionary history of each tumor and identifying genes and pathways that could be targeted through new or existing drugs.”

Backed by TFRI support, Reimand and collaborators are creating a robust multi-omics dataset derived from samples of glioblastoma tumours, including those that have returned after initial treatment. The dataset will incorporate many types of layered data from each sample including whole genome sequencing data, RNA sequencing data and proteomic data.

Reimand, who has expertise in integrating complex datasets, will develop machine learning strategies to identify new potential targets for treatment. The tools and methodologies will be designed to be applicable to other cancer types and will be made freely available for the research community to use.

“We hope that our expertise in computational biology can help shed new light on glioblastoma recurrence by analyzing tens of thousands of genes, proteins and RNAs in complex interaction networks, and ultimately provide a small number of high-confidence targets for further experimental work and therapy development,” said Reimand.

This research is enabled in large part by Reimand’s partnership with Dr. Sheila Singh, a clinician-scientist at McMaster University in Hamilton.

“We are routinely generating large amounts of complementary data utilizing different platforms that are difficult to compare,” says Dr. Singh. “This is why we are so excited to collaborate with Dr. Reimand to decipher GBM recurrence, as he brings invaluable expertise in computational biology, bioinformatics and machine learning. Dr. Reimand’s multi-omics integrative analysis will deliver our PPG with target genes, pathways and drug interactions that will help us to identify new therapies and understand the complex mechanisms of GBM recurrence.”

Read more about Dr. Jüri Reimand’s work.

This post has been adapted from the original announcement made by TFRI.

December 19, 2019

New immune-boosting approach could halt the spread of cancer cells to nearby organs

Dr. Victoria Hoskin, Postdoctoral Fellow at Queen’s Cancer Research Institute.

Dr. Victoria Hoskin, OMPRN grantee, wins best poster presentation at the 2019 Terry Fox Research Institute Ontario Node Research Symposium for her novel approach to preventing cancer metastasis

The vast majority of cancer-related deaths are caused by cancers that have spread – or metastasized – to other organs. Breast cancer cells, for example, often spread to nearby lymph nodes where they can settle, grow and spread to more distant organ sites, evading surgery and chemotherapy treatment. Dr. Victoria Hoskin has set out to stop these migrating cancer cells in their tracks.

Earlier this year, Hoskin and an interdisciplinary team of researchers at Queen’s Cancer Research Institute (QCRI), found that a specific protein, ezrin, which plays a key function in cancer metastasis, may also have an important immune-modulating role. They went on to find that when ezrin is blocked, the immune system’s T-cells can better recognize, engage and kill the migrating cancer cells in surrounding lymph nodes. As she describes in her recent Oncotarget editorial, these findings may represent a new method to not only prevent cancer metastasis, but to also engage the immune system.

“When we blocked ezrin, we saw that the cancer cells couldn’t migrate and invade into other tissues,” says Hoskin, who is a Postdoctoral Fellow at QCRI. “We’re excited by these findings because they point to a new way to reduce the spread of cancer cells and to potentially boost the immune response against these cancer cells.”

Throughout the course of her research, which was supported in part by the Ontario Molecular Pathology Research Network (OMPRN), Hoskin helped develop a novel experimental animal model that allowed her and her team to track and monitor cancer and immune cells in vivo. The model, she describes, was the critical tool behind her discovery, allowing her to look deeper into the behavior of cancer cells and T-cells within specific organs.

Last week, Hoskin presented her research at the 2019 Terry Fox Research Institute Ontario Node Research Symposium. Among more than 120 other presenters, she won one of three poster presentation awards. Other presentation award recipients included:

  • Parasvi Patel, PhD Candidate, University of Toronto and Princess Margaret Cancer Centre
  • Noor Shakfa, MSc Candidate, Queen’s University and Queen’s Cancer Research Institute

Hoskin and her collaborators plan to further investigate how T-cells interact with cancer cells in the absence of ezrin.

“What we’ve found is not only scientifically interesting, it could be clinically significant,” says Hoskin. “Metastasis is a serious challenge and our research efforts are dedicated to finding a new solution.”

Learn more about OMPRN

Read more about the 2019 TFRI Ontario Node Research Symposium.

August 10, 2018

Join the OICR community in having fun and raising funds for the Terry Fox Foundation at the Great Canadian Hair “Do”

Participants of last year's event pose for a group photo.

On Friday, September 14 at noon, a team of OICR staff members and others from the community will once again take part in the one-of-a-kind Great Canadian Hair “Do” in support of The Terry Fox Foundation. The team will have their heads shaved or have their hair styled in an outrageous fashion in the atrium of the south tower of the MaRS Centre. As part of the event, the crowd will hear from a cancer survivor and a cancer researcher to learn about the importance of cancer research fundraising and funding.

Last year the team raised more than $8,500. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to make a difference! If you are interested in participating in an unforgettable event, while helping a good cause, visit the OICR team website to register. MaRS is a community partner for the Great Canadian Hair Do.

To join the team or to donate, visit: http://www.terryfox.ca/OICRHairDo2018

 

March 8, 2018

Collaborating to bring new treatment options to children with brain cancer

Medulloblastoma cells as seen under a microscope

OICR’s Brain Cancer Translational Research Initiative (TRI) and the Terry Fox Precision Oncology for Young People Program (PROFYLE) are partnering to share data and deliver improved treatment options to young brain cancer patients.

Continue reading – Collaborating to bring new treatment options to children with brain cancer

March 6, 2018

Canadian pancreatic cancer research team provides personalized medicine, new hope to patients

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.

Continue reading – Canadian pancreatic cancer research team provides personalized medicine, new hope to patients

September 15, 2017

Some braided it, some shaved it: the 2017 Terry Fox Great Canadian Hair Do!

OICR Hair do team - After

Since 2008 OICR staff members and others from the community have come together each year for the Terry Fox Great Canadian Hair Do, to raise money for important cancer research. This year the team raised more than $8,800 in support of the Terry Fox Foundation by shaving their heads or having their hair styled and brightly coloured. With these generous contributions the event has now raised more than $120,000 since its inception, and the team is still accepting donations.

Continue reading – Some braided it, some shaved it: the 2017 Terry Fox Great Canadian Hair Do!

March 16, 2017

Researchers discover new test that could change the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer

Dr. Paul Boutros

Genetic tests are being used more commonly in the diagnosis of many types of cancer. However, there currently isn’t a highly accurate test that can identify men with aggressive forms of prostate cancer, making it more difficult to choose the most appropriate course of treatment.

Continue reading – Researchers discover new test that could change the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer

September 16, 2016

Thanks to everyone who supported the Great Canadian Hair Do

John Bartlett about to go under the clippers

On September 14, 2016, participants and supporters gathered in the MaRS Centre for the annual Great Canadian Hair Do in support of the Terry Fox Foundation. Participants had their heads shaved or hair styled as the audience cheered them on in support.

Continue reading – Thanks to everyone who supported the Great Canadian Hair Do

September 12, 2016

The return of an annual tradition: The Great Canadian Hair “Do”

Participants of the 2015 Great Canadian Hair "Do" pose for a photo in two rows.

Participants of the 2015 Great Canadian Hair “Do” pose after ‘braving the shave’.

This Wednesday, September 14 at noon, a group of brave OICR staff members and others from the community will once again muster the courage to participate in the Great Canadian Hair “Do” in support of The Terry Fox Foundation. The team of 14 will have their heads shaved or have their hair styled in an outrageous fashion in the atrium of the south tower of the MaRS Centre.

Continue reading – The return of an annual tradition: The Great Canadian Hair “Do”

July 14, 2016

“Smart” nanoparticle called PEARLS a promising gem to target, treat tumours with greater precision

UHN Logo(TORONTO, Canada – July, 14, 2016) – Dr. Gang Zheng and a team of biomedical researchers have discovered a “smart” organic, biodegradable nanoparticle that uses heat and light in a controlled manner to potentially target and ablate tumours with greater precision.

Continue reading – “Smart” nanoparticle called PEARLS a promising gem to target, treat tumours with greater precision

November 23, 2015

OICR community marks 35th anniversary of Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope

Terry Fox head shave participants.The Great Canadian Hair “Do” in support of the Terry Fox Foundation (TFF) has grown to become a fall tradition at OICR and MaRS and this year’s edition was one of the most successful yet. Fourteen brave individuals either shaved their heads or had their hair coloured and styled in wild-looking “Dos”. A few of the participants donated their hair to make wigs for cancer patients. Justin Lewis, a survivor of colon cancer, attended and shared his experience with cancer with the audience and spoke about the importance of fundraising and research. Francis D’Souza of CityTV once again acted as MC. This year’s team shattered their fundraising goal of $10,000 by hauling in a total of $12,950.

Continue reading – OICR community marks 35th anniversary of Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope