Canadian Liver Foundation and University Health Network Press Release

New Research Project Explores Curing Liver Cancer at the Nano Level

TORONTO, Nov. 10, 2016 /CNW/ - A $1.2 million research grant is helping scientists get one step closer to eliminating liver cancer. Made possible by Canadian Liver Foundation (CLF) and an anonymous donor via the Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation (TG&WHF), this research will explore how nanoparticles can support the body's immune system kill liver cancer cells.

Dr. Ian McGilvray, liver transplant and cancer surgeon and Senior Scientist at Toronto General Research Institute, University Health Network, is leading the initiative. Dr. McGilvray and a multidisciplinary team of investigators will explore how nanoparticles can target and destroy immune cells that help liver cancer evade detection and grow.

"This research will bring us one step closer to conquering this deadly disease," says Dr. McGilvray. "We are, quite literally, on a mission to cure liver cancer by harnessing the power of the immune system."

Liver cancer is one of the fastest-growing cancers in Canada. Since 1970, liver cancer cases have tripled for men and doubled for women. It's also one of the most deadly diseases; patients with advanced diagnosis survive less than a year. More than half of patients cannot be treated with current therapies.

According to the CLF, liver cancer is on the rise largely because of late diagnosis of viral hepatitis and increasing cases of fatty liver disease. This makes their research partnership with UHN all the more powerful: UHN is a global leader in all forms of liver disease. Its track record in scientific discovery has led to successful new therapies for many forms of liver disease – and has even helped to cure hepatitis C.

"Liver cancer is notoriously difficult to diagnose," says Dr. Morris Sherman, Chairman of the Canadian Liver Foundation. "It's often the end result of many different types of liver disease. Our updated statistics show that one in four Canadians may be affected by liver disease so we're expecting liver cancer cases to continue to rise. We see liver cancer as a top research priority and thanks to the generosity of our donor and our partnership with TG&WHF; we're able to award the largest research grant in the Foundation's history." 

The CLF's research review process ensures that all grant submissions undergo rigorous and objective peer review which is conducted in partnership with the Canadian Association for the Study of the Liver (CASL) and involves evaluations by liver experts from within Canada and around the world. Each research proposal receives a rating based on its scientific merit and relevance to the goals of the CLF. Ratings are reviewed by the CLF's Medical Advisory Committee to determine the final grant recipients.

Dr. McGilvray's nanotechnology research is made possible through a $600,000 grant from CLF and a matching philanthropic gift of $600,000 from an anonymous donor at Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation (TG&WHF). The research will take place over the next three years.

"We are so grateful to our anonymous donor for their generous gift in support of Dr. McGilvray's research," says Tennys Hanson, President and CEO of TG&WHF and Vice President and Chief Development Officer of UHN.  "Understanding how to target and eliminate cancer cells is a critical step to developing more effective treatments, and a cure. We are delighted to help Dr. McGilvray and UHN researchers accelerate their research through our partnership with CLF."

About the Canadian Liver Foundation
Founded in 1969 by a group of doctors and business leaders concerned about the increasing incidence of liver disease, the Canadian Liver Foundation (CLF) was the first organization in the world devoted to providing support for research and education into the causes, diagnoses, prevention and treatment of all liver disease. Today, we are bringing liver research to life by promoting liver health, improving public awareness and understanding of liver disease, raising funds for research and providing support to individuals affected by liver disease.

About Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation
Established in 1986, Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation raises funds for research, education and the enhancement of patient care at Toronto General and Western hospitals, University Health Network. Through its donors, TGWHF is helping to drive advancements in liver disease, cardiac, brain, arthritis, vision, diabetes, mental health, transplant, regenerative medicine and more – transforming patient outcomes here and around the world.

SOURCE Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation

For further information: Media Contacts: Canadian Liver Foundation: Melanie Kearns, Vice President, Marketing & Communications, 416-491-3353,; Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation, Liza Jerome, Vice President, Community Giving, Marketing & Communications, 416-340-3746,


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