Expert Alert - CIHR funding for Cancer Research - Experts available to comment on cancer care and cancer control

    OTTAWA, Nov. 1 /CNW Telbec/ - Research has identified a vast majority of
the environmental or life style factors involved in causing cancer, as well as
ways to fight the disease. Yet, there are still so many unanswered questions.
What about exposure to pesticides? What about where you live? What about
current chemotherapy treatments? Funding has been allocated to health
researchers in the field of cancer research to probe deeper into the causes,
biological mechanisms, treatments, risk factors and prevention methods
associated with cancer.
    These researchers are available to speak about their newly funded project
and how they see their work improving the lives of cancer patients and their

    Funded researchers:

    Can physical activity improve quality of life for patients in advanced
    stages of cancer?
    Dr. Kerry Courneya, CIHR funded researcher from the University of Alberta

    Attacking pediatric cancer without harming children's development
    Dr. Poul Sorensen, CIHR funded researcher from the University of British
    Columbia (Vancouver).

    Stopping cancer from spreading
    Dr. Jonathan Blay and Dr. Kirill Rosen, CIHR funded researchers from
    Dalhousie University (Halifax).

    Preventing breast and ovarian cancer: where you live makes a difference
    in your choices
    Dr. Kelly Metcalfe, CIHR funded researcher from the University of Toronto

    Skin cancer: It could be more than just fun in the sun
    Dr. Richard Gallagher, CIHR funded researcher from the University of
    British Columbia (Vancouver).

                      Highlighted Projects Backgrounder

    The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of
Canada's agency for health research. CIHR's mission is to create new
scientific knowledge and to catalyze its translation into improved health,
more effective health services and products, and a strengthened Canadian
health-care system. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and
support to more than 11,000 health researchers and trainees across Canada.

              Ce document est également disponible en français.

                             Cancer Backgrounder

    Dr. Kerry Courneya (University of Alberta) will explore ways to encourage
    physical activity among patients in the end stages of cancer

    Fatigue, energy loss and decline in physical functioning are all common
in cancer patients, with a significant impact on their quality of life. We
know that physical activity can have a positive effect for cancer patients
generally, but we know little about its impact on those in the advanced stages
of the disease. Dr. Kerry Courneya of the University of Alberta is taking the
first steps toward designing a way to enhance physical activity among
end-stage cancer patients by determining first, what their preferences and
interests are and second, if there is any association between physical
activity and quality of life for this population.

    Dr. Poul Sorensen (University of British Columbia) will examine a way to
    avoid damage to children's development as a result of cancer treatment

    Most chemotherapy drugs work by targeting the DNA replication machinery
of growing cells. Unfortunately, they also often affect normal growing cells.
In children, most cells are still growing. This means that, when children are
treated for cancer, the treatment can damage their other cells, harming their
intellectual, emotional, and physical development. Dr. Poul Sorensen of the
University of British Columbia is looking at a cellular pathway called the
insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IFG1R) that is activated in nearly all
childhood cancers, as well as many adult ones. He believes that blocking IGF1R
could inhibit tumour growth without affecting normal cells, leading to new
ways to treat childhood cancers without harming normal development.

    Dr. Jonathan Blay (Dalhousie University) and Dr. Kirill Rosen (Dalhousie
    University) will examine ways to stop or slow cancer from metastasizing
    to other parts of the body.

    Cancer becomes most threatening when it spreads from its original
location to other sites in the body, a process known as metastasis. Two
researchers from Dalhousie University will both examine methods to stop or
slow this metastasis. Dr. Jonathan Blay will focus on cancer of the colon,
looking at two proteins on the surface of cancer cells that work together to
promote metastasis. He will investigate the way in which these two proteins
(CXCR4 and CD26) can cooperate to allow metastasis, and whether existing drugs
used in new ways can interfere with this process, reducing metastasis from the
colon to other sites. Dr. Kirill Rosen will investigate a protein called Ras
that could help cancer cells that detach from the epithelial layer - cells
that would otherwise die - survive and travel to other sites. Dr. Rosen
believes that Ras reduces levels of a cell death-inducing protein in cancer
cells and will investigate whether this change allows Ras to rescue detached
cancer cells from death. If successful, his work could lead to the development
of a new type of cancer therapy based on blocking the ability to cancer cells
to survive outside of their original location and, therefore, to spread to
other parts of the body.

    Dr. Kelly Metcalfe (University of Toronto) will investigate why where you
    live affects your decisions about carrying a genetic risk for breast and
    ovarian cancer.

    Women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation have one of the highest known risks
for the development of breast and ovarian cancers, with a cumulative risk by
age 70 of 65% for breast cancer and 39% for ovarian cancer. Women also have
options for reducing that risk, including undergoing prophylactic mastectomy
or oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries) or taking the drug tamoxifen. In
Canada, however, there is a marked difference in the choices women make,
depending on where they receive their genetic counselling and testing. For
instance, the percentage of women choosing prophylactic mastectomy ranges from
eight to 46%, while the figures for prophylactic oophorectomy range from 39 to
67%. The percentage choosing tamoxifen ranges from four to 16%. Dr. Kelly
Metcalfe of the University of Toronto will look at why these differences
exist, to ensure that all Canadian women who undergo genetic testing for BRCA1
and BRCA2 receive consistent care.

    Dr. Richard Gallagher (University of British Columbia) will explore the
    role of organic chlorine compounds such as PCBs and pesticides in causing
    skin cancer.

    Most of the melanoma, or skin cancer, around the world is due to too much
sun exposure. But there is a substantial portion for which the cause isn't
clear. One possible culprit is exposure to organochlorines such as PCBs or
pesticides. Dr. Richard Gallagher of the University of British Columbia will
compare blood levels of PCBs and pesticides in people with skin cancer to
those without. By taking these measurements and by controlling for sun
exposure, Dr. Gallagher will help determine whether more intensive studies are
needed of the role of organochlorines in the genesis of melanoma.

For further information:

For further information: David Coulombe, CIHR Media Specialist, (613)
941-4563, Mobile: (613) 808-7526,

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