TORONTO, June 24, 2013 /CNW/ - The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research
(OICR) is investing $52 million to support the development of new
innovative approaches for the prevention, early detection, diagnosis,
and treatment of cancer. The announcement was made today by Ontario
Minister of Research and Innovation Reza Moridi. This investment will
focus on key areas of translational research that will have the
greatest impact on patients, including cancer stem cells, drug
discovery, genomics, informatics and pathology.
"This funding is a significant investment in the future of cancer
research in Ontario," said Minister Moridi. "It will ensure that
world-leading researchers continue to choose Ontario as the place to do
breakthrough work, driving new discoveries that will improve the lives
of people here and around the world."
"With these funds, OICR will further enhance Ontario's cancer research
capacity and deliver on our translational research mission," said Dr.
Calvin Stiller, Chair of OICR's Board of Directors. "This investment
will help researchers from diverse fields come together to tackle some
of the largest problems in cancer research and find new solutions for
"The funds announced today will help OICR researchers across Ontario
continue to tackle some of the greatest challenges in cancer research,"
said Dr. Tom Hudson, President and Scientific Director of OICR. "And
because three programs funded today are supporting international
initiatives, we are ensuring that OICR's research findings contribute
to large-scale research projects with global impact."
"Drs. John Dick and Robert Rottapel and many other scientists in UHN's
Princess Margaret Cancer Centre do important and life-saving work in
our laboratories and clinics," said Dr. Robert Bell, President and CEO
of University Health Network. "The Government of Ontario recognizes
that an investment in cancer research is critical to maintaining an
environment of scientific inquiry and discovery and that is extremely
good news for cancer patients and their families - here and around the
"Cancer is a deadly disease that affects millions of people around the
globe," said Dr. Nicole Onetto, Deputy Director of OICR. "But we now
know that cancer is in fact many different diseases that require more
targeted, precise tools for diagnosis and treatment. Funding today will
help us to develop these tools to find cancers earlier and help
characterize treatment for aggressive and non-aggressive disease. This
will enable us to have an effect on patient care in the short term."
The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research
OICR is an innovative cancer research and development institute
dedicated to prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment of
cancer. The Institute is an independent, not-for-profit corporation,
supported by the Government of Ontario. The annual budget for OICR, its
research partners and collaborators exceeds $150 million. This supports
more than 1,600 investigators, clinician scientists, research staff and
trainees located at its headquarters and in research institutes and
academia across the Province of Ontario. OICR has key research efforts
underway in small molecules, biologics, stem cells, imaging, genomics,
informatics and bio-computing. For more information, please visit the
website at www.oicr.on.ca
The OICR programs funded include:
Cancer Stem Cell Program
Led by Dr. John Dick at University Health Network, the Cancer Stem Cell
Program aims to better understand cancer stem cells by identifying and
validating gene and protein signatures derived from leukemia, sarcoma,
glioblastoma and other tumour types using genomics and other
cutting-edge technologies. This should provide the opportunity to
better identify high-risk patients, overcome cancer treatment
resistance and develop better and more individualized approaches to
treat cancer patients.
Innovation in Target Validation Program
Led by Dr. Robert Rottapel at University Health Network, the objective
of the program is to develop and deploy technologies to accelerate the
identification and validation of new candidate targets against cancer,
particularly ovarian cancer, using state-of-the-art high-throughput
Drug Discovery Program
Led by Dr. Rima Al-awar at OICR, the Drug Discovery Program identifies
and validates new therapeutic targets for various cancers and
participates in the development of new drugs aiming at these targets.
The most advanced programs currently are focused on multiple myeloma
and lymphoma. This should lead to collaboration with industry and other
drug discovery and academic programs and ultimately will result in the
development of new drugs.
Genome Technologies Program
Led by Dr. John McPherson at OICR, The Genome Technologies Program uses
cutting-edge genomic technologies to characterize tumours and identify
mutations by sequencing their DNA. The team focuses on pancreatic,
prostate, breast and leukemic cancer in order to better understand the
genetic events driving tumour development and growth and allow for more
genes to be targeted with novel cancer treatments.
Informatics and Bio-computing Program
Led by Dr. Lincoln Stein at OICR, the goal of the Informatics and
Bio-computing Program is to develop the sophisticated software needed
to extract new information from large cancer data sets and to apply
these methods to several OICR research projects. The resulting
knowledge should lead to better care for patients with cancer through a
deeper understanding of the genetic changes implicated in cancer
development and progression, and of patient response to therapy.
Additional funds will go toward building the IT infrastructure that will
help to support the next generation of cancer research and care in the
International Cancer Genome Consortium
IT infrastructure funds will also support the International Cancer
Genome Consortium's (ICGC) Data Coordination Centre (DCC). The ICGC was
created to launch and coordinate a large number of research projects
with the goal of unraveling the genomic changes present in many forms
of cancer. The knowledge generated by the ICGC will lead to
personalized cancer treatments.
The data produced by the ICGC project teams is housed on the ICGC
website at www.icgc.org and is based at OICR. Almost 8,000 cancer genomes are currently in the
ICGC database and are made rapidly available to qualified investigators
around the world. As of June 2013, there are commitments from funding
organizations in Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South
America for 55 project teams in 15 jurisdictions to study more than
25,000 tumour genomes.
Transformative Pathology Program
Led by Dr. John Bartlett at OICR, The Transformative Pathology Program
will advance the field of cancer personalized medicine by developing
and validating new molecular diagnostic and biomarker approaches for
breast cancer to better identify high risk patients and to understand
the mechanism by which patients develop resistance to treatment.
Training of the next generation of molecular pathologist and clinician
scientists is also a central mission of this program.
Translational Research Initiatives
OICR integrates province-wide research teams and fosters collaborative
efforts which are key to major achievements and have an impact on
translational research. Funding will support two Translational Research
Initiatives (TRIs). TRIs are led by an OICR program leader and are
large collaborative efforts between several OICR programs and external
One TRI is focused on pancreatic cancer and will capitalize on the
International Cancer Genome Consortium's effort to characterize the
genome of pancreatic cancer. It will aim at developing a better
understanding of the disease in order ultimately to address the high
fatality rate of the disease.
The second TRI, Improved Management of Early Cancer (IMEC), focuses on
developing new strategies (biomarkers, imaging technologies and others)
to address the issue of over-diagnosis and over-treatment of early
breast and prostate cancer.
Global Alliance to Enable the Responsible Sharing of Genomic and
More than 70 organizations worldwide are collaborating to establish a
common international framework of international standards that will
allow genomic and clinical data to be collected, managed and shared in
an effective, responsible and interpretable manner.
Dr. Tom Hudson, OICR's President and Scientific Director is one of the
co-authors of the white paper that sets out the need for the framework
of international standards as well as the goals and core principles of
OICR is providing funds to support secretariat functions for the
Alliance under the leadership of Mr. Peter Goodhand, OICR's Executive
Lead, International Partnerships.
SOURCE: Ontario Institute for Cancer Research
For further information:
Ontario Institute for Cancer Research
Contact: Christopher Needles
Manager, Strategic Communications