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2017 Highlights

A future free of cancer requires a fundamental shift in thinking: cancer patients can no longer be treated as a homogeneous group. BC Cancer has established itself as a global leader in precision medicine and is poised to revolutionize the future of cancer care.

  • Personalized onco-genomics, or POG, is changing the way cancer is diagnosed and treated, proving that genomics can change the way we treat cancer. It’s one of the most exciting cancer research initiatives ever undertaken in BC, and is setting a global precedent, in terms of the diversity of cancers investigated and the number of patients participating. POG has taught us that we aren’t limited to traditional anti-cancer drugs and is fundamentally shifting how cancer medicine is practiced.
  • PanGen is an innovative initiative that for the first time in BC is using genomics to identify different types of pancreatic cancer. The PanGen team hopes to identify unique biomarkers that will result in more effective treatments for patients facing this deadly form of cancer. There is strong interest internationally in this novel research, with the opportunity to improve the diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer worldwide.
  • A world first: machine-learning software was used to analyze data from single cancer cells, allowing BC Cancer researchers to map the spread of the deadliest ovarian cancer. This innovative approach will be used to more closely examine cells that become resistant to treatment, and promises to be further engineered into a predictive tool.
  • BC Cancer is the first in Canada to launch a province-wide personalized medicine panel test through standard of care; the oncopanel, myeloid panel, and hereditary panels are informing thousands of patient treatment plans. These genomic-based tests can be updated every six months, informed by clinically actionable targets discovered through programs such as POG.
  • At the forefront of personalized medicine, the Centre for Lymphoid Cancer is leading the development of new genomic based prognostic tests to reduce treatment failure and improve patient survival.
  • In a national first, BC Cancer, Terry Fox Research Institute and Princess Margaret Cancer Centre launched an innovative pilot project to accelerate precision medicine for cancer patients. The pilot will provide much-needed evidence on how best to roll out a broader vision for data sharing and collaborative translational and clinical research to enable precision medicine for the cancer population.
  • BC Cancer scientists were the first in the world to decode the genetic evolution of a breast cancer tumour. Scientists decoded all of the three billion letters in the DNA sequence of a metastatic lobular breast cancer tumour, a type of breast cancer that accounts for about 10 per cent of all breast cancers, and have found all of the mutations that caused the cancer to spread.
  • BC Cancer researchers are providing critical insight into the invasive spread of the most malignant form of ovarian cancer. This discovery is a world first in mapping two distinct patterns of ovarian cancer cell migration in high grade serous ovarian cancer.
  • Researchers from the BC Cancer's Ovarian Cancer Research program (OvCaRe) and Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute were the first in the world to discover that a single genetic mutation is behind one of the deadliest forms of ovarian cancer. This discovery could help unravel the causes of many other cancers and lead to a whole host of new treatments.
  • Dr. Sam Aparicio was announced as a member of one of the first global research teams to be recipients of Cancer Research UK’s Grand Challenge. The Grand Challenge aims to help overcome the biggest challenges facing cancer research in a global effort to beat cancer sooner. Dr. Aparicio’s pioneering team will create a virtual reality 3D tumour map which will allow scientists and doctors to examine – for the first time and in unprecedented detail – the cellular and molecular make-up of a patient’s entire tumour to improve diagnosis and treatment for the disease.
  • Researchers from BC Cancer, BC Women's Hospital + Health Centre, Vancouver Coastal Health, the University of British Columbia and collaborators at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions examined tissues from women with endometriosis to make a groundbreaking discovery - non-hereditary gene changes (mutations) in endometriosis, which impact the growth of cells. The results of the study will open the door to learn more about how common these gene mutations are, and which types of endometriosis have mutations.
  • Dr. Sohrab Shah and his team discovered several ovarian cancer subtypes, which could result in new treatment strategies for some ovarian cancer patients including those that do not respond well to chemotherapy. This discovery was published in Nature Genetics.
  • BC Cancer is improving services and patient-centered care for the Fraser Valley by expanding a new chemotherapy unit with more research space and enhanced patient-focused services. The expansion will increase chemotherapy treatment chair capacity by 28 per cent – with an average extra 4,300 patient visits for a total of 15,000 visits per year. Additional ambulatory clinical space will also provide 13,000 more patient visits with clinical care teams each year. 
  • BC Cancer, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance formed a new partnership to enhance cancer research in the newly named Cascadia Innovation Corridor. The new partnership will expand patient access to care and clinical trials, advance immunotherapy, enable research collaboration, and provide better training opportunities for young scientists and researchers

SOURCE: 2017 Highlights ( )
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