A team of researchers from the University of British Columbia, BC Cancer Agency and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute has received a $3.1-million grant from Terry Fox Foundation to study genetic aspects of rare cancers.
The team is one of four in Canada receiving a total of $14.8 million from the Terry Fox Foundation under a new partnership with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) for the Terry Fox New Frontiers Program Project Grants at CIHR. The grant will establish the CIHR Team in the Genomics of Forme Fruste Tumours.
“Many rare tumours share a single, identical defect that manifests as unique clinical presentations and prognosis,” says principal investigator David Huntsman, an associate professor of pathology in UBC’s Faculty of Medicine. “We call these cancers forme fruste tumours.
“The medical research community has learned and benefited a great deal from studying rare diseases,” says Huntsman, who is also a scientist at VCHRI and BCCA. “By applying next generation sequencing technologies to rare tumours we will discover new diagnostics and therapeutic opportunities for these rare diseases and gain new insights relevant to more common cancers.”
The team will use DNA sequencing technology to study 12 forme fruste tumours that currently lack effective diagnostics and treatments. The researchers will survey expressed genes in these tumours to identify the genetic changes that may be the root cause of their cancerous behaviour. They will then analyse these minute changes in single cells using the latest advances in microfluidics. Finally, they will study the functional consequences of these mutations and their potential as therapeutic targets.
Other principal investigators include: Sam Aparicio, Carl Hansen, Peter Lansdorp, Marco Marra, Torsten Nielsen, Poul Sorensen and Michael Underhill.
“The Terry Fox Foundation has funded many outstanding researchers at the University of British Columbia over the past three decades,” says Victor Ling, president and scientific director of the Terry Fox Research Institute. “The Foundation is pleased to support this important New Frontiers Program Project Grant led by Dr. Huntsman. This team of prominent and nationally and internationally renowned scientists will tackle some very important and fundamental challenges in cancer research today,”
The Terry Fox Foundation will be investing approximately $20 million in 2010-2011 for cure-oriented biomedical discovery research and $10 million for translational research through The Terry Fox Research Institute. The funds are raised by Canadians who participate each year in Terry Fox Runs and the National School Run Day across the country, in honour of Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope. For more information on the Terry Fox New Frontiers Program and a full list of funded projects, visit http://www.tfri.ca/whats_new/2010_09_16.asp.
The BC Cancer Agency, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority, is committed to reducing the incidence of cancer, reducing the mortality from cancer, and improving the quality of life of those living with cancer. It provides a comprehensive cancer control program for the people of British Columbia by working with community partners to deliver a range of oncology services, including prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, research, education, supportive care, rehabilitation and palliative care. The BC Cancer Foundation raises funds to support research and enhancements to patient care at the BC Cancer Agency.
The UBC Faculty of Medicine provides innovative education programs in health and life sciences, teaching over 3,000 students at the undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate levels. In addition, over 700 researchers/faculty members representing all of the Faculty’s 19 departments, two schools and 15 research centres and institutes received research grants. In 2008/09 the Faculty generated more than one-half of the total research funding of the university ($475.3M). For more information visit www.med.ubc.ca.
Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute is the research body of Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, which includes BC’s largest academic and teaching health sciences centres: Vancouver General Hospital, UBC Hospital, and GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre. The institute, academically affiliated with UBC Faculty of Medicine, is one of Canada’s top funded research centres, with $102 million in total research funding for 2008/2009. VCH Research Institute brings innovation and discovery to patient care, advancing healthier lives in healthy communities across British Columbia, Canada, and beyond. www.vchri.ca.