VANCOUVER — It's not every day a miracle happens. With government funding of $3 million to the BC Cancer Foundation, the Personalized Onco-Genomics program and high priority cancer projects are receiving a boost from the BC Cancer Foundation to help the BC Cancer Agency continue to find unique cures for the hardest to beat cancers, Premier Christy Clark announced today.
"The future of cancer care is personalized, leading to the best, targeted treatments for the most challenging cases - and we've already seen a number of success stories coming out of this program," said Premier Clark. "A growing, diverse economy gives us the ability to support the BC Cancer Foundation in spearheading significant research projects that cure illness, improve treatments, and save lives."
This investment adds to the $2 million provided to the BC Cancer Foundation to support breast cancer research, which was announced in October 2015. Funding by the Province helps to support the world-leading cancer research community. Research work of this magnitude is due to the skilled researchers at BC Cancer Agency and the depth of talent existing in British Columbia. Leading edge research will be showcased at the upcoming #BCTECH Summit in Vancouver from Jan. 18-19, 2016.
"As we move forward with our comprehensive technology strategy, it's clear that British Columbians continue to benefit from projects undertaken by the best and brightest researchers," said Health Minister Terry Lake. "We are seeing proof on the ground that innovations in personalized health care from the BC Cancer Agency make a big difference- giving hope to those with the most aggressive or recurring forms of cancer."
The goals of the Personalized Onco-Genomics (POG) project are to apply advanced genome sequencing techniques to patients in real-time: decode the genome (the entire DNA inside the cell of each patient's cancer) to understand what is enabling it to grow, and to develop treatment strategies to block its growth.
"On behalf of over 100,000 BC Cancer Foundation donors and every patient who will take part in POG over the coming years, I'd like to thank Premier Clark and Minister Lake for this critical donation to support world-leading cancer research taking place here in our province," said Lou Del Gobbo, interim president & CEO, BC Cancer Foundation.
By understanding the genetic makeup of a patient's tumour, researchers hope to pinpoint potential drug therapies that would be the most effective for that specific tumour at that time, and spare patients and the health care system from treatments that have little or no clinical benefit.
Under the program, every patient is their own personalized clinical trial, allowing the research team to rapidly translate the results into care and targeted treatment.
"As a non-smoker diagnosed with stage-4 lung cancer at 41, I was shocked," said Jen Strack, "POG has been a huge blessing for me, it's such an amazing program that the BC Cancer Agency offers and it's given me life and hope."
The program is expanding from its current 350 patients to 2,000 patients over the next five years. The highly experimental research program supports BC Cancer Agency patients with metastatic disease.
Currently, the study can enroll six to eight patients per week. So far the program has treated patients with 50 different types of cancer.
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A backgrounder follows.
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