New genomics research projects to create economic and social benefits for Canadians

Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and LifeLabs work together to provide comprehensive genomic profiling to thousands of Canadian cancer patients

TORONTO, June 5, 2015 /CNW/ - Thousands of Canadian cancer patients may soon benefit from more targeted, personalized cancer treatment following an investment by the Government of Canada.

The Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology) and Bernard Trottier, Member of Parliament for Etobicoke Lakeshore, accompanied by Lorne Hepworth, Chair of Genome Canada, announced nearly $16 million in funding for four new research projects under the third round of Genome Canada's Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP). The announcement was made at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, where the Minister, Mr. Trottier and Mr. Hepworth toured the lab of Dr. Suzanne Kamel-Reid, Head, Clinical Laboratory Genetics and Director, Molecular Diagnostics, University Health Network.

Dr. Kamel-Reid will be working with LifeLabs Medical Laboratory Services to develop a program to personalize cancer treatment by providing genomic profiling, which has the potential to save thousands of lives. By establishing a genomic profile of various cancers, healthcare providers can offer the right drug at the right time to a patient, improving cancer treatment outcomes for Canadians coast to coast. Further, the infrastructure to be developed in this project represents a major advance towards achieving substantial cost- savings in the healthcare system for multiple cancer types.

GAPP projects partner academic researchers with "users" of genomics (e.g. industry, provincial governments, non-profits, or other organizations) to develop innovations that are expected to have considerable economic and social impacts within the near term.

Other projects announced in this third round of program funding involve using genomics to: enhance soybean oil for commercial use; improve outcomes for lung transplant patients; and, grow more resilient and higher quality conifer trees that can help the Canadian forest industry compete more effectively on a global level.

Quick Facts

  • Approximately 200,000 Canadians are diagnosed with cancer each year. More than one in four of these patients can benefit from rapid comprehensive cancer genomic profiling
  • Under a newly funded GAPP project, researchers at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre will partner with LifeLabs Medical Laboratory Services to increase the number of patients who have access to comprehensive cancer genomic profiling
  • The four projects announced today involve a total investment of $15.7 million. The Government of Canada is contributing $5.2 million through Genome Canada with the balance (about $10.5 million) invested by co-funding partners including the genomics "users."  Twelve projects previously received funding under the first two rounds of the program.
  • The projects announced today involve researchers at institutions based in Ontario (Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University of Toronto), Quebec (Université Laval) and Alberta (University of Alberta). They involve partners from the agriculture, healthcare and forestry sectors. (See backgrounder for project descriptions.)
  • Launched in 2013, GAPP is a $113-million program, with $37.8 million of federal funding through Genome Canada and the balance from partner investments (i.e. from industry, government, non-profit and others).

Quotes

"Our government is committed to ensuring ideas move from the lab to the marketplace more quickly, creating globally competitive Canadian businesses and jobs here at home. Our investment in the Genomic Applications Partnership Program supports these partnerships by seeking genomic solutions to real world challenges, creating both social and economic benefits for Canadians. "

– The Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State for Science and Technology

"Our government has made record investments in science, technology and innovation to create jobs, prosperity and improve the lives of all Canadians. Today's investment in the GAPP project between the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and LifeLabs will help expand targeted, personalized cancer treatment for tens of thousands of Canadian cancer patients through genomic tumour profiling, cutting edge analysis that can save lives here in Toronto and across the country."

Bernard Trottier, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and for La Francophonie and Member of Parliament for Etobicoke Lakeshore

 "Genomics offers great potential for new ideas and innovations to be applied to multiple sectors of vital importance to Canada. We are delighted to see so many genomics 'users' eager to work in partnership with the research community to translate genomics research into practical applications."

– Mr. Lorne Hepworth, Chair of Genome Canada

"We are thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate with LifeLabs and synergize our strengths and expertise to move genomic technology into routine clinical care," said Dr. Kamel Reid. "Our goal is to enhance patient care by increasing access to genomic profiling and personalizing treatment for all Canadians. With this funding, Genome Canada has moved us one step closer to achieving this goal."

– Dr. Suzanne Kamel-Reid, Head, Clinical Laboratory Genetics and Director, Molecular Diagnostics, University Health Network.

"We are delighted to partner with Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and the University Health Network on genomic profiling of cancer specimens. LifeLabs' strengths in specimen collection, our transportation network and extensive logistics capabilities and growing genetic testing capabilities, combined with the cancer centre's expertise as Canada's leading developer of novel cancer genomic assays, make this a tremendous collaboration. Having a national strategy for genomic profiling of cancer specimens is a critical step to ensuring Canadian cancer patients have access to the most effective care. We are very appreciative of the leadership and support from Genome Canada."

– Mr. Jeff Sumner, Senior Vice-President, Business Development, Clinical Affairs and Genetics at LifeLabs

Associated links

Backgrounder – GAPP Round 3 projects
Video – Pierre Meulien on GAPP
GAPP Rounds 1 and 2 press release, October 15, 2014
GAPP launch press release, June 3, 2013

Follow us on Twitter: @GenomeCanada; @industrycanada

About Genome Canada: www.genomecanada.ca

Genome Canada is a not-for-profit organization that acts as a catalyst for developing and applying genomics and genomic-based technologies, to create economic and social benefits for Canadians. Genome Canada connects ideas and people across public and private sectors to find new uses for genomics, invests in large-scale science and technology to fuel innovation, and translates discoveries into applications and solutions across key sectors of national importance, including health, agriculture, forestry, fisheries & aquaculture, energy, mining, and the environment.

About University Health Network: www.uhn.ca
University Health Network includes Toronto General and Toronto Western Hospitals, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, and Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. The scope of research and complexity of cases at University Health Network has made it a national and international source for discovery, education and patient care. It has the largest hospital-based research program in Canada, with major research in cardiology, transplantation, neurosciences, oncology, surgical innovation, infectious diseases, genomic medicine and rehabilitation medicine. University Health Network is a research hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto.

About LifeLabs: www.LifeLabs.com
LifeLabs is a Canadian-owned company with over 50 years of experience providing laboratory testing services to help healthcare providers diagnose, treat, monitor and prevent disease. In communities across British Columbia and Ontario, LifeLabs provides cost-effective, convenient access to laboratory testing services which are essential for optimal outcomes in healthcare. LifeLabs employs approximately 5,400 professionally trained staff and delivers over 100 million laboratory tests, serving 19 million patient visits annually. In 2013, LifeLabs acquired BC Biomedical in British Columbia and CML HealthCare in Ontario making LifeLabs the largest community laboratory in Canada. LifeLabs is indirectly owned by OMERS Administration Corporation, whose interest is managed by Borealis Infrastructure. For more information about LifeLabs Genetics visit www.LifeLabsGenetics.com. LifeLabs is a Proud Supporter of the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games.

 

SOURCE Genome Canada

For further information: Contacts: Scott French, Director of Communications and Parliamentary Affairs, Office of the Minister of State (Science and Technology), 613-943-6177; Andrea Matyas, Director, Communications, Genome Canada, Office: 613-751-4460 x 231, Cell: 613-790-0106

RELATED LINKS
www.genomecanada.ca

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