cancer biology

The molecular dissection of aggressive B-cell lymphoma

Aggressive B-cell lymphomas are the most common form of lymphoma and ~50% of patients are cured with modern treatments. However, the outcomes for patients whose disease is not cured are dismal with ~10% of those patients alive at 5 years. This shows that these lymphomas, although grouped together on the basis of what they look like down the microscope, represent clusters of different lymphoma groups. A better understanding of the 'molecular wiring'of these lymphomas is critical to identify patients at high risk of resistant lymphoma and providing better treatments.

Primary Investigator: 
Year: 
2019

Identification of IL1RAP as a novel oncoprotein and therapeutic target in Ewing sarcoma

Ewing Sarcoma (EWS) is an aggressive form of childhood cancer that occurs on bone and soft tissue. Although conventional cancer therapeutic strategies, such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, have improved survival in patients with localized EWS tumours, they are ineffective for patients with metastatic disease. In addition, conventional chemotherapy is often toxic and carcinogenic, which carries short- and long-term toxicities.

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2019

Development and Application of Computational Methods for Profiling Cancers at Single Cell Resolution

Cancer is a complex disease with many factors which determine how rapidly cancer cells can grow and spread throughout the body. Significant differences exist within the cancer cell population of a patient. These differences shape the interaction of cancer cells with the surrounding healthy tissue, with dramatic variation between patients. This so called cancer heterogeneity has profound implication for patient prognosis, and is one of the primary challenges to developing effective cancer treatments.

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2019

Developing new anti-cancer drugs that target abnormal signaling networks in cancer

A defining characteristic of cancer cells is their ability to grow and replicate in an uncontrolled manner. Cancer cells have altered signaling pathways that allow them to bypass checkpoints that would normally prevent their rapid growth. STAT3 protein is a master regulator of cancer cell signaling and is found to be overactive in 70 % of cancers. While healthy cells can survive without STAT3, cancer cells become addicted to overactive STAT3 and are sensitive to disruptions in this pathway.

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2019

Effects of cellular origin on the development of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma

Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the third leading cause of cancer related deaths mostly due to the absence of symptoms as the cancer develops. This leads to diagnosis after the tumor has already become widely invasive and cannot be surgically removed. Unfortunately, surgical removal of early stage tumors is the most effective treatment option and other treatments, such as chemotherapy, are woefully ineffective.

Thus, there are two major fronts where research could improve the outcomes of pancreatic cancer patients:

Primary Investigator: 
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Year: 
2019

Rethink Endometriosis: Genomics and Microenvironment Influence on Biology and Malignant Potential

One million Canadian women are affected by endometriosis annually. There is little investment in research, and socioeconomic cost, >$4 billion annually in Canada, continue to climb owing to lost productivity, sick days, treatments for frequent pain, infertility and depression. Most critically, affected women may have up to a 10-fold increased risk of developing specific types of ovarian cancer. There are no biological features that predict if endometriosis will result in severe or chronic pain, infertility, or cancer.

Primary Investigator: 
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2019

A microfluidic cell migration assay enabling anticancer drug testing of patient-derived tumour cells

The dispersal of tumour cells within malignant tissue relies on a process called chemotaxis, where tumour cells migrate in response to chemical signals in the local microenvironment. There has been longstanding interest in using chemotaxis assays to deduce how invasive a tumour is, and how it might respond to drug therapy. However, current chemotaxis assays are prone to extreme inter-assay variability, due to the inherent instability of the chemical gradient.

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2018

Regulation of the ion channel TRPM3 by reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the implications on brain functions and diseases.

Oxidative stress (OS) describes the occurrence of reactive oxygen species (ROS), chemicals that cannot be balanced by the body’s antioxidant defenses. OS can occur in every cell of the body and is linked to an increasing number of diseases.

Primary Investigator: 
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2018

Identifying oncogenic signaling pathways that mediate immune exclusion in ovarian cancer

Despite major advances in our understanding of the mechanisms behind the body’s immune response against cancer, several obstacles limit the success of immunotherapy as a cancer treatment. In particular, the physical exclusion of immune cells from tumour beds is associated with poor prognosis and a limited response to immunotherapy.

Primary Investigator: 
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2018

Defining mechanisms of lineage transformation in lung cancer to combat resistance to targeted therapies

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in Canada. A major reason for the poor prognosis is the lack of effective drugs for treating advanced tumours.

New understanding of the mutations driving lung cancer has led to the development of targeted therapies that selectively inhibit mutated genes, leading to rapid cancer regression in specific subsets of patients. However, while these therapies improve patient survival and quality of life, they are not curative as all patients develop drug resistance.

Primary Investigator: 
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2018

JAK-STAT pathway mutations in B-cell lymphomas: Implications for the tumour microenvironment and treatment failure

Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system where tumours develop from abnormal growths of white blood cells. Non-Hodgkin Lymphomas (NHL) are the fifth most common cancers diagnosed in Canada. Of those, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is the most common.

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2018

Novel PET imaging agents for prostate cancer detection

Positron emission tomography (PET) imaging provides the most accurate and sensitive detection of cancer in patients. Yet PET is challenged by cumbersome methods that impede the clinical production of PET imaging agents and diminish their distribution and use. A critical unmet need for PET imaging is access to user-friendly methods to simplify and speed up time-sensitive radiosynthesis to deliver imaging agents to clinics.

Primary Investigator: 
Year: 
2018

Developing novel cancer diagnostic platforms and advancing treatment options for metastatic cancer

Metastasis, which is the spread of cancer cells from a primary tumor to other areas in the body, remains the main cause of cancer related death. Awareness of the clinical importance of metastasis and our basic scientific understanding of the metastatic process has improved substantially over the past few decades. However, many aspects of metastasis are still not well defined and our ability to identify patients at high risk for cancer spread is limited.

Primary Investigator: 
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Year: 
2018

Assessment of breast cancer and response to systemic therapy before surgery using diffuse optical imaging technology

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. Patients with large breast tumour or palpable lymph nodes often receive chemotherapy first, followed by surgery. During chemotherapy, a doctor performs serial breast exams and occasional imaging to monitor tumour shrinkage, but this is not good enough to capture shrinkage accurately. It is important to develop a better way to measure breast cancer response on chemotherapy before surgery, as it can predict outcomes and change treatment plans.

Primary Investigator: 
Year: 
2018

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