Terry Fox Run dollars provide $12.7 million to Canadian scientists and health research centres for breakthrough cancer research

VANCOUVER, Nov. 2, 2011 /CNW/ - Cancer patients across Canada will benefit from a multi-million dollar investment by The Terry Fox Foundation that will support new and breakthrough research undertaken by leading scientists and clinicians at health and research centres and institutions in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.

"Today The Terry Fox Foundation is providing a total of $12.7 million for three significant research programs led by the nation's top cancer scientists. We are confident their work will open doors to new discoveries that advance our understanding of this disease and enable new and innovative ways to diagnose and treat cancer in its many forms," says Dr. Victor Ling, President and Scientific Director of the Terry Fox Research Institute (TFRI). "We appreciate the work of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) in overseeing the peer review for this very prestigious competition. These grants provide substantial funding to enable scientists to explore fundamental and complex areas of cancer research which are critical to our understanding and management of cancer."

"I applaud The Terry Fox Foundation for its commitment to supporting research that aims to make breakthroughs in the fight against cancer," said the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Canada's Minister of Health. "The Government of Canada is pleased to have been able to help in the process of selecting these outstanding research teams for funding. Their work, and the funds invested by The Terry Fox Foundation, will contribute to improved health for all Canadians."

"Terry believed in the importance of cancer research. Our investment ensures that the best and brightest research teams will be able to move his vision forward with new discoveries that will make a difference for cancer patients everywhere," says Mr. Brett Kohli, National Director, The Terry Fox Foundation. "We are extremely grateful to the millions of Canadians, young and old, who believe in Terry's vision and support this important and complex research through our annual school and community Terry Fox runs."

Nearly one-half of the funds to be invested via the 2011 New Frontiers Program Project Grants at CIHR competition will support new research into advanced prostate cancer at the Vancouver Coastal Health's Vancouver Prostate Centre. The lead investigator of the Terry Fox New Frontiers Program on Prostate Cancer Progression is Dr. Martin Gleave, executive director of the Vancouver Prostate Centre and lead investigator.  With five-year funding of over $6M, Dr. Gleave and a team of 20 co-investigators will delve deeper into understanding why patients with advanced cancer become resistant to hormone therapy.  Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer, and a leading cause of cancer-related death of men.

"Our research defines changes in gene and cell function that enables prostate cancer cells to become resistant to hormone therapy," says Dr. Gleave, distinguished professor in the Department of Urologic Sciences at UBC and holder of the Liber Ero BC Leadership Chair in Prostate Cancer Research. "After identifying these changes, we then use this information to develop new therapies to delay disease progression. Our long-standing Terry Fox program serves as a major catalyst for translational research that has already enabled us to bring several new therapies from bench-to-bedside."

At The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto, Ontario, Dr. Sean Egan, senior scientist in the Developmental & Stem Cell Biology Program, and associate professor in the Department of Molecular Genetics at the University of Toronto, heads an investigative team that will receive $2.8M over three years to find the "Achilles' heel" responsible for tumour metastases of the breast and brain. "Recent cancer DNA sequencing efforts have shown that cancer-associated mutations can be quite different between primary tumours and their metastases, which have spread throughout the body. This is particularly true in some forms of brain and breast cancer," says Dr. Egan. "These differences pose serious challenges, impeding efforts to identify therapy for advanced metastatic tumours.  Our group, which aims to address tumour heterogeneity through the identification of subgroup-specific "shared maintenance genes," will use these funds from The Terry Fox Foundation to identify critical targets to treat the primary tumours and their malignant descendants."

In Montreal, Quebec, at the Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Research Centre, Dr. Michel Tremblay, professor, Departments of Biochemistry and Oncology and Centre director, will lead a team of investigators over the next three years to study molecular linkages between other diseases and cancer. "The scientific and medical communities have long known that the intricate molecular control in obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases are linked to cancer. Yet this remains uncharted territory and much work needs to be done to understand these links. The New Frontiers oncometabolism team grant is an outstanding opportunity to work at understanding this interrelation and to develop novel strategies to tackle cancer management," says Dr. Tremblay. His team will receive a total of $3.8M over three years

The New Frontiers Program Project Grants is the flagship program of The Terry Fox Foundation's investment portfolio, funding team science and research excellence for nearly three decades. TFRI and CIHR formed a joint partnership in 2010 to oversee the delivery of the program.

The Terry Fox Foundation will be investing approximately $16 million in 2011-2012 for cure-oriented, biomedical discovery research and another $10 million for translational research through TFRI. 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.

About TFF
The Terry Fox Foundation maintains the vision and principles of Terry Fox while raising money for cancer research through the annual Terry Fox Run, National School Run Day and other fundraising initiatives. To date, over $550 million has been raised worldwide for cancer research in Terry Fox's name. The first Terry Fox Run was held in 1981, with The Terry Fox Foundation being created in 1988. Its national headquarters are located in Chilliwack, BC and it has offices in 9 provinces. www.terryfox.org.

About CIHR
For the past 11 years, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has supported better health and healthcare for Canadians. As the Government of Canada's health research investment agency, CIHR enables the creation of evidence-based knowledge and its transformation into improved treatments, prevention and diagnoses, new products and services, and a stronger, patient-oriented healthcare system. Composed of 13 internationally-recognized institutes, CIHR supports more than 13,000 health researchers and trainees across Canada.

About TFRI
Launched in October 2007, The Terry Fox Research Institute is the brainchild of The Terry Fox Foundation and today functions as its research arm. TFRI seeks to improve significantly the outcomes of cancer research for the patient through a highly collaborative, team-oriented, milestone-based approach to research that will enable discoveries to translate quickly into practical solutions for cancer patients worldwide. TFRI collaborates with over 50 cancer hospitals and research organizations across Canada. TFRI headquarters are in Vancouver, BC. www.tfri.ca

SOURCE Terry Fox Research Institute

For further information:

Kelly Curwin
The Terry Fox Research Institute
Vancouver, BC
kcurwin@tfri.ca 
telephone: 604-675-8223
cell: 778-237-8158

David Coulombe
Media Affairs
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
613-941-4563
mediarelations@cihr.gc.ca

Lisa Carver
Vancouver Prostate Centre, Vancouver Coastal Health
604-875-4111, extension 61777
Cell: 604.319.7533

Allison Flynn
Université McGill | McGill University
514-398-7698
allison.j.flynn@mcgill.ca

Suzanne Gold
The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids)
416-813-7654 ext. 2059
suzanne.gold@sickkids.ca

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