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Ontario Institute for Cancer Research Launches Translational Research Programs

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) has launched five translational research initiatives that will use genomics and other technologies to combat various cancers, Ontario's Ministry of Research, Innovation, and Science announced today.

The programs will be supported with C$24 million ($17.9 million) over two years, and will specifically focus on acute leukemia, brain cancer, immuno-oncology, ovarian cancer, and pancreatic cancer.

The first initiative will be led by scientists from the University Health Network, who will use genomics, epigenomics, and bioinformatics to develop new biomarkers that can be used to predict how leukemia patients will respond to therapy, as well as the likelihood of disease recurrence.

The second program, led by researchers at the Hospital for Sick Kids, is investigating the cellular and genetic differences between medulloblastoma and glioblastoma multiforme in children and adults in order to better understand brain cancer and develop new treatments.

In the third initiative, researchers from University Health Network and the University of Ottawa will evaluate the therapeutic potential of an immunotherapeutic/cancer vaccine combination, and will  conduct genomic and immune cell analyses in cancer patients undergoing immuno-oncology treatment, in order to gain insights into the mechanisms of response and drug resistance.

The fourth initiative is being led by investigators from the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and will examine genome maintenance pathways as therapeutic targets for ovarian cancer, the adaptive pathways involved in ovarian tumor survival following initial treatment, and the potential of epigenetic therapy to influence tumor immunogenicity to selectively target ovarian cancer cells.

Through the last initiative, the OICR aims to expand a clinical study using molecular profiles of pancreatic adenocarcinoma patients to guide treatment selection beyond the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre to sites throughout Canada.

"Coupling the leading-edge science produced by these groups with clinical research and evaluation will help ensure that our work is making a real impact in the clinic," Craig Earle, head of clinical translation at OICR, said in a statement. "Bringing together researchers and clinicians with diverse specialties from across the province will allow that impact to be felt even sooner."