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Research institutes join in project to improve cancer target discovery


Toronto, ON – The Terry Fox Research Institute (TFRI) and the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) have launched a new joint cancer research project. The project, called the Selective Therapies Target Identification Program, will identify specific cancer molecules as targets for development of new drugs that will destroy cancer cells without harming healthy ones.

The project brings together Ontario’s leading cancer research institutions, including Princess Margaret Hospital – University Health Network, Mount Sinai Hospital, the Hospital for Sick Children, the University of Toronto, McMaster University Health Sciences Centre, and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute in Ottawa.

“This historic collaboration represents a significant step toward making cancer treatment much more effective, as well as less invasive for patients,” said Dr Tom Hudson, OICR’s president and scientific director. “We’re bringing together Ontario’s best medical and research professionals to improve cancer discovery and validation through development of better screening and analysis techniques.”

The goals of the project are to:
– Establish a fully integrated, interdisciplinary team of clinician-scientists, biologists
and technical support personnel from across Ontario;
– Improve the capacity of key cancer screening facilities; and
– Develop new algorithms that will significantly enhance the speed and accuracy of
data analysis, and improve the cancer screening process by reducing “false-positive”
results.

“Our institution is dedicated to keeping Terry Fox’s dream alive – bringing people together to produce results that will help improve the health of people touched by cancer,” said Dr Victor Ling, TFRI’s scientific director. “The Selective Therapies Target Identification Program is part of our partnership with the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, which we expect will deliver significant advances in new, more effective, and less intrusive cancer-fighting drugs in the next five years.”

This is the first project funded through the joint TFRI/OICR agreement that was signed in November 2007, which will provide up to $30 million over five years, to support translational research projects in new cancer-based biological model systems and screens. Projects will focus on four research areas: chemical genomics and programmed cell death, DNA damage and stress response, cancer stem cells, and morphogenesis and tissue homeostasis.