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Canada Launches Multi-partner Glioblastoma Study

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A group of Canadian research institutes, universities, and funding partners have launched a C$8.2 million (US$8 million) effort to conduct molecular and genomic studies of glioblastoma tumors and develop targeted, personalized treatments for the deadly brain cancer, the Terry Fox Research Institute said on Tuesday.

"Although we've made some progress in treating glioblastoma, it has not been dramatic. This is a disease where survival is measured in months," Gregory Cairncross, head of the department of clinical neurosciences at the University of Calgary, said in a statement.

"Our team integrates researchers and centers in Canada with different and complementary strengths and we've come together to focus on the illness itself," he said. "We don't see any other way forward other than through research because there seems to be no way to prevent glioblastoma. We have a chance to make a difference and we are hopeful that we will."

Funding for the project came from multiple partners, including C$3.1 million from TFRI and the Terry Fox Foundation; C$2 million from Alberta Innovates - Health Solutions; C$1.9 million from the Alberta Cancer Foundation; C$612,000 from Genome Canada; C$306,000 from Genome BC; and C$250,000 from the BC Cancer Foundation.

The five-year, interdisciplinary effort will be led by the University of Calgary's Faculty of Medicine but also will involve efforts at Genome Alberta; The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids); Mount Sinai Hospital of Toronto; the University Health Network; the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research; the University of Toronto; and the National Cancer Institute of Canada Clinical Trials Group.

The genomic analyses for the studies will be run by the BC Cancer Agency Genome Sciences Centre, and the drug screening will be conducted by researchers at SickKids. Human clinical trials will be conducted by University Health Network and the NCIC-Clinical Trials Group, as well as partners at the Tom Baker Centre and the BC Cancer Agency.

The Alberta research teams at the University of Calgary's Hotchkiss Brain Institute, the Southern Alberta Cancer Research Institute, and the Clark H. Smith Brain Tumour Research Centre will develop and provide cell models that closely resemble glioblastoma tumors. The team currently is growing brain tumor-initiating cells in the lab that were grown from patients' tumor tissues.

Partners in BC and Ontario will analyze these glioblastoma models to determine their molecular and genetic composition and target compounds that might help control tumor growth and development.