OICR's catalyst grant enables WaveCheck to open first partner site at MD
Anderson Cancer Center in May
TORONTO, April 8, 2014 /CNW/ - People with breast cancer are a step
closer to knowing if their tumour is responding to chemotherapy at the
start of treatment, thanks to a $100,000 catalyst grant from the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR). The funding builds upon MaRS Innovation's Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for WaveCheck, which successfully raised over $50,000 from over 500 supporters
worldwide in two months last fall.
WaveCheck, a clinical technique invented, refined and tested by
scientists at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and Ryerson University over 20 years, aims to show whether chemotherapy
is actually destroying a breast cancer tumour at the beginning of
chemotherapy treatment (in as little as four weeks), rather than at the
end of treatment (typically four to six months).
In early clinical testing, the non-invasive, image-guided technology has
shown promise as an accurate, efficient way to monitor tumour response,
opening the door to tailored treatment.
"This is a significant step towards achieving the goal of personalized
medicine. The clinical trials will confirm that information provided by
WaveCheck can determine if the treatment is the appropriate one or that
other options should be chosen, sparing patients the side effects of
treatments that will not likely be successful," said Dr. Tom Hudson,
OICR's president and scientific director. "If successful, WaveCheck
could become a standard tool in the cancer treatment of the future."
Thanks to help from OICR's funding, 20 women within Canada and 20 in the
United States with locally-advanced breast cancer will participate in a
clinical study at Sunnybrook and MD Anderson Cancer Center, beginning
The WaveCheck crowdfunding campaign was twice named to The Globe and Mail's Report on Small Business' Top 10 list for the most financially
successful Canadian crowdfunding campaigns on both Kickstarter and
Indiegogo, but fell short of its $96,987 goal to fully fund the first
partner study site at MD Anderson.
With OICR's funding, the technology's inventors, Dr. Gregory Czarnota,
director of the cancer research program at Sunnybrook Research
Institute and chief of Radiation Oncology at Sunnybrook's Odette Cancer
Centre, and Michael C. Kolios, professor of Physics and Canada Research
Chair in Biomedical Applications of Ultrasound at Ryerson University, will begin collecting the data they need to refine the technology and
show that the clinical technique consistently produces the same results
for other world-leading cancer clinics.
"Clinical testing is how we get our innovations to patients, and this
one has shown remarkable preliminary results in that arena," said Dr.
Michael Julius, vice-president of research at Sunnybrook. "Taking it to
this next stage will help crystalize those results. Critical to this
progress is partnership with those that likewise prioritize investment
in tomorrow's health care. We have had such partners in the federal and
provincial governments, notably MaRS Innovation, and we are pleased
that OICR is now part of this concerted effort."
WaveCheck has been used in clinical studies with over 150 women; its
first results were published in Clinical Cancer Research and Translational Oncology. The technology aims to create greater transparency through dialogue
between breast cancer patients and their doctors, empowering them to
participate in discussions about whether a given chemotherapy treatment
"If these clinical studies replicate the early studies, we could use
this technology to monitor tumour response early in treatment and to
predict which patients will continue on in their therapy to have a
complete pathological response," said Wei Yang, M.D., professor of Diagnostic Imaging at The University of Texas MD
Anderson Cancer Center and clinician lead at the designated partner
site. "On the other hand, for patients in whom the test indicates a
poor response to treatment, the regimen could be changed to a more
"WaveCheck's campaign showcased MaRS Innovation's ingenuity and
willingness to embrace new funding sources on behalf of disruptive
technologies emerging from our membership," said Dr. Raphael Hofstein,
president and CEO. "People all over the world took interest in this
promising technology, and we were joined by many partners. We're proud
to welcome OICR into their company, bringing the campaign to a
successful conclusion and ushering Greg and Michael's research into
this next important phase."
Two additional partner study sites are planned with Princess Margaret
Cancer Centre and London Health Sciences Centre. The WaveCheck team
continues to seek additional funds to open them as quickly as possible.
To support WaveCheck now, visit the Sunnybrook Foundation website and enter "WaveCheck" in the comments field when making a donation.
Image with caption: "WaveCheck, a clinical technique invented by Dr. Gregory Czarnota of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (left) and Professor Michael Kolios of Ryerson University (right), will be used at MD Anderson in the United States in a clinical study beginning in May 2014. (CNW Group/MaRS Innovation)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20140408_C8920_PHOTO_EN_38919.jpg
SOURCE: MaRS Innovation
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Director, Marketing & Communications
WaveCheck Campaign Co-Director