Alberta cancer researchers awarded Canadian Cancer Society grants

CALGARY, May 5 /CNW/ - A study testing a new class of drugs on a small group of patients with brain tumours is one of two new projects receiving Canadian Cancer Society grants in Alberta.

Dr. Peter Forsyth, a cancer researcher at the University of Calgary, is receiving more than $300,000 to determine if the new drug can effectively get in to the tumours at high enough levels to have an impact on the cancer's development. Dr Forsyth is well known for his progressive work in the field of brain cancer research, and has made great strides using a common virus to fight tumours.

"This is a very important clinical trial for Albertans and Canadians alike," says Dr Michael Weinfeld, a cancer researcher at the University of Alberta and Canadian Cancer Society board member. "The findings of clinical trials like this could have a tremendous impact on the lives of those affected by brain cancer. We are fortunate to have an outstanding community of cancer researchers in Canada and by supporting their work, the Canadian Cancer Society is making a great deal of progress in the fight against cancer."

Approximately 2,600 Canadians will be diagnosed with brain cancer this year. The most common type of brain cancer is malignant glioma, which despite treatment advances in recent years, has a life expectancy of approximately one year. Dr Forsyth's innovative and promising research in the field of brain tumours has put him in the international spotlight.

The Canadian Cancer Society, the largest national charitable funder of cancer research, contributed nearly $50 million to research projects across the country last year. Groundbreaking research, like that of Dr Forsyth and his team at the University of Calgary, is advancing how cancer is prevented, diagnosed, treated and ultimately cured.

Public contributions, which fund the Canadian Cancer Society, are allowing great progress through research in the fight against cancer. Today, more than 62 per cent of Canadians will survive a cancer diagnosis - that's nearly double the survival rate in the 1960s.

The new Canadian Cancer Society-funded grants to Alberta researchers are:

    -  Dr Thomas Simmen, University of Alberta, awarded $408,428 over three
       years to study factors involved in the persistence of cancer cells
       that allow them to withstand stress, such as the cellular stress
       caused by chemotherapy. Dr Simmen's team has identified a part of the
       cell that is crucial for sensing stress and will study why it is
       abnormal in tumour cells and promotes their survival, and aims to
       understand how drugs can be developed to better target this pathway.
       Dr. Simmen's research will lead to drugs that better target this
       pathway or that assist current chemotherapy, in particular in the
       case of melanoma.

    -  Dr Peter Forsyth, University of Calgary, recipient of $312,282 over
       three years to test a new class of drugs on a small group of brain
       cancer patients. The drugs, calls gamma-secretase inhibitors (GSIs),
       will be tested to determine if they can penetrate tumours and impact
       their growth. Dr Forsyth is currently receiving a $705,000 Canadian
       Cancer Society grant to test the ability of a common virus to destroy
       brain cancer cells. Dr Forsyth is a cancer researcher at the Clark H.
       Smith Brain Tumour Centre, the University of Calgary and Alberta
       Health Services.

About the Canadian Cancer Society

The Canadian Cancer Society fights cancer by doing everything we can to prevent cancer, save lives and support people living with cancer. Join the fight! Go to to find out how you can help. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website at or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1-888 939-3333.

For a complete list of the new Canadian Cancer Society-funded grants, please visit

SOURCE Canadian Cancer Society (Alberta/NWT Division)

For further information: For further information: For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Deanna Kraus, (403) 541-5375, Media Relations Specialist, Canadian Cancer Society, Alberta/NWT Division,

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