Brain cancer needs more brainpower. Thanks to Brain Canada, and to the following donors who invested in the first year of this partnership, the Canadian Cancer Society will drive the nation’s best research to unravel this complex disease.
Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada
The Canadian Cancer Society is honoured to thank the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada for their generous support which, along with a matching gift from Brain Canada, has enabled the first Impact Grant of its kind dedicated to brain cancer research. The Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada Impact Grant of the Canadian Cancer Society and Brain Canada has been awarded to Dr Michael Taylor, The Hospital for Sick Children, for his study of childhood medulloblastoma.
“Our vision is to find a cure for brain tumours and to improve the quality of life for those affected. The research projects enabled by this partnership represent a significant step towards this reality.” – Carl Cadogan, CEO, Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada
The Canadian Cancer Society thanks the Women in Insurance Cancer Crusade (WICC) Alberta Brain Cancer Research Fund for their generous, early commitment!
Thanks to the Society’s partnership with Brain Canada, and to the support of donors coast to coast, the following 4 Impact Grants in brain cancer research were awarded in February 2015.
Dr Michael Taylor, The Hospital for Sick Children: Helping children avoid life-long treatment effects
A pediatric neurosurgeon and senior scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Dr Michael Taylor is an acknowledged expert on the molecular genetics of medulloblastoma and ependymoma, two of the most common malignant pediatric brain tumours. He holds the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada Impact Grant of the Canadian Cancer Society and Brain Canada.
Classifying medulloblastomas to influence treatment decisions
Children diagnosed with medulloblastoma – the most common childhood brain cancer – are often left with long-term effects from the intensive treatment. Dr Michael Taylor, a pediatric neurosurgeon and Senior Scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children, previously discovered that medulloblastoma is not one disease, but four, each with a different genetic footprint. Now, Dr Taylor aims to identify a way to predict the aggressiveness of these different cancer subtypes. He has gathered an unprecedented collection of tumour samples from 80 cities around the world. He and his team will study how different medulloblastomas vary from one another and how each tumour changes in response to treatment. This important work will help identify which children have high-risk cancers requiring the most aggressive treatments, versus those that can receive a gentler treatment regimen.
Dr Paul Sorensen, University of British Columbia: Therapeutic targeting of neural tumours
Dr Poul Sorensen is a professor in the Department of Molecular Oncology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. A pathologist, he specializes in the molecular pathology of pediatric cancers. His lab has discovered many novel genetic alterations in childhood cancers and breast tumours.
Overcoming cancer’s ability to resist treatment
The childhood brain tumours medulloblastoma and neuroblastoma can be aggressive and hard to treat. Dr Poul Sorensen, a pathologist and professor at Vancouver’s University of British Columbia and Senior Scientist at the BC Cancer Agency Research Centre, is targeting what he believes is the Achilles heel of tumour cells: namely, how they adapt and survive under stress. He has discovered that an enzyme called eEF2K helps cancer cells cope with stress and resist treatment. In this project, Dr Sorensen and his team will determine how eEF2K protects brain tumour cells under stress and test whether blocking the enzyme will make cancer cells sensitive to therapy. This work could lead to more effective and targeted treatment options for childhood brain cancer.
Dr David Stojel, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute: Virus could boost patient’s immune system
Dr David Stojdl is a Senior Scientist at Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Ottawa. He is an expert in the field of oncolytic viruses. He recently discovered a new oncolytic virus, called Maraba, which shows potential for treatment of adult and pediatric solid tumours. A clinical trial of Maraba is currently being planned.
Programming an oncolytic virus to treat glioblastoma multiforme
Glioblastoma multiforme is a fast-growing tumour and the most common malignant brain cancer in adults. Dr David Stojdl, a Senior Scientist at Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute in Ottawa, is designing a new treatment to combat this disease. He is a world expert in the field of oncolytic viruses, programmable viruses that target and kill cancer cells, as well as stimulate the immune system. However, cancer cells have proven expert at “hiding” from the immune system. Dr Stojdl has designed an oncolytic virus specifically for the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme. With this Impact Grant, he and his team will boost the virus’ ability to stimulate the patient’s immune system. If successful, this could vastly improve the outlook for glioblastoma patients.
Dr Uri Tabori, The Hospital for Sick Children: DNA discovery could lead to early detection
Dr Uri Tabori is an oncologist and Senior Scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto. His research investigates mechanisms that control tumour progression and resistance to therapy, and focuses on tumours like pediatric gliomas and neuroblastoma.
Developing a simple test for cancer
Cancer can exhibit relentless growth and relapse because of the enhanced protection of its chromosome ends. Dr Uri Tabori, an oncologist and Senior Scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children, is a world expert in telomeres – the protective caps at the ends of DNA. He has discovered that telomeres are maintained by a section of DNA called THOR. In this project, he and his team will test whether detecting THOR in a simple blood or urine test could detect cancer early and predict relapse and survival, as well as identifying new drugs to prevent relapse. This important research could lead to new diagnostic and treatment strategies with a focus on brain, prostate and bladder cancer.