Lab Canada

$60M funding supports cancer research and equipment

Toronto, ON – Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) has allocated funding of $60 million for several of the institute’s key programs as well as institutional awards for scientific equipment.

Dr Tom Hudson, president and scientific director of the institute made the announcement. “Our strategy is to build on the strengths and opportunities in cancer research in Ontario, where the likelihood of major breakthroughs and potential impacts is the highest,” he said. “Ontario has those strengths in early diagnosis, targets and therapeutics. We are also committed to commercializing the discoveries so that patients benefit as quickly as possible from the investments we are making.”

The programs funded include:

– Imaging Platform: $10 million. Led by Dr Aaron Fenster, director and scientist, Imaging Research Laboratories, Robarts Research Institute in London, the platform is accelerating the development of imaging techniques for screening, early diagnosis of cancer, cancer stem cell research and clinical trials.

– One Millimetre Cancer Challenge: $12.5 million. Led by Dr Martin Yaffe, senior scientist at Sunnybrook Research Institute in Toronto, the program is developing methods to screen populations at risk and identify tumours when they are very small, only a few millimetres in size, which could allow for treatment aimed at long-term cancer-free survival.

– Cancer Stem Cell Program: $17 million. Led by Dr John Dick, senior scientist, at the Ontario Cancer Institute, the research arm of the University Health Network’s Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, is identifying the rare subset of cancer cells that are responsible for growth of malignant tumours and are resistant to many forms of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Effective therapies that would kill these cells would likely prove effective in preventing cancer relapse.

– Immunotherapies and Biotherapies: $1 million. Led by Dr John Bell, senior scientist, Cancer Therapeutics, Ottawa Health Research Institute, is developing biotherapeutic approaches to treating cancer which includes the use of viruses that kill cancer cells while sparing normal cells and use of viruses as vaccines for cancer.

The awards include $9.8 for state-of-the-art equipment in 11 sites and $8.7 million in funding through OICR’s Cancer Research Fund for 18 translational research projects. Those projects involve research that is moving discoveries in diagnosis and treatment into clinical application.