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BC Cancer scientists win grants to help commercialize ground-breaking technologies

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BC Cancer Agency scientists, Drs. Calum MacAulay and Andrew Minchinton, are among 11 recipients for the inaugural Innovation to Commercialization (I2C) awards from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research.

Drs. Calum MacAulay and Andrew Minchinton are among 11 recipients for the inaugural Innovation to Commercialization (I2C) awards from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR). 

The I2C Program is designed to help researchers advance discoveries or inventions towards commercialization by supporting commercialization activities that strengthen the value of their intellectual property, facilitate collaboration and attract future investment.

You can read about all 11 I2C award recipients and their projects, selected through MSFHR's rigorous peer review process including national experts from academia and industry, here.

Dr. Calum MacAulay: Predicting the behaviour of prostate cancers

CM.pngTreatment for prostate cancer can have significant negative impact on quality of life and health care costs, and should only be utilized when the cancer itself is likely to be fatal. Treatment recommendations are based on PSA levels, clinical staging and Gleason scoring. Active surveillance is a preferred approach when the disease is low-risk and small. 

Significantly, five to 10 per cent of individuals with low-risk disease who are treated up-front experience poor outcomes. Additionally, more than 40 per cent of active surveillance patients may progress and require treatment — and half of those will ultimately fail treatment. The effectiveness of active surveillance is limited without a clinical tool to accurately assess risk of progression. 

In small pilot studies, Dr. MacAulay’s lab has demonstrated the ability to predict aggressive behaviour in prostate cancers with greater than 80 per cent accuracy using a specific imaging technology that uses the measurement of genomic organization at large in individual cells along with the cell’s position within the patient’s tissue. 

Dr. Andrew Minchinton: Enhancing tumour sensitivity to radiotherapy

AM.jpgHalf of all cancer patients receive radiation therapy, impacting about seven million people worldwide each year. Enhancing tumour sensitivity to radiotherapy would have a far reaching and significant impact on patients with many kinds of cancer. 

Dr. Minchinton’s lab has developed novel inhibitors of DNA-repair that can dramatically enhance the elimination of cancer cells with radiotherapy. With the I2C grant, he will improve his previously developed small molecule inhibitors of a DNA repair protein by developing therapeutic regimens to optimize their use for maximum anti-cancer benefit and minimize their effect on normal tissue. The overall aim of the project is to identify optimized inhibitors suitable for clinical candidate evaluation.

After the preclinical work, Dr. Minchinton will seek corporate partners to take the candidate into full clinical evaluation involving Phase I through III clinical trials. DNA damage repair mechanisms as a route to improved therapy could have a significant impact on the effectiveness of radiotherapy for cancer treatment. 

 
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