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OICR Invests $49M in Genomics, Translational Research Programs

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research has pumped C$52 million ($49.3 million) into several genomic and translational research programs aimed at developing new diagnostics and treatments for cancer, OICR said today.

The new investment will concentrate on supporting programs and research areas that the institute deems to be of high interest, including ones centering on cancer genomics and stem cells, drug discovery, informatics, and pathology.

The funding also will pay for three new translational research projects, as well as OICR's role in a new global alliance of 70 organizations that is focused on enhancing the sharing of genomic and clinical data.

OICR's Genome Technologies Program will be one of the beneficiaries of the new funding. This program runs a next-generation sequencing shop that conducts cancer genome sequencing to profile tumors, to develop new targets for therapeutics, and to study mutations being investigated in the International Cancer Genome Consortium program.

Some of the investment also will be used to fund information technology infrastructure that will support the ICGC's Data Coordination Center.

OICR's Innovation in Target Validation Program is another initiative set to receive funding. This program aims to develop and deploy new high-throughput tools to speed up the identification and validation of new candidate targets against cancer, particularly ovarian cancer.

A portion of the funds will also go to the Informatics and Bio-computing Program that is developing software to extract information from large cancer datasets and to apply that data to other OICR research projects. Some of the new funding also will go toward building up OICR's IT infrastructure in general.

The institute's Drug Discovery Program — with its focus on identifying and validating therapeutic targets for various cancers — will receive some of the new funds, as will the Transformative Pathology Program. That program concentrates on validating new molecular diagnostic and biomarker approaches to identify patients at high risk for breast cancer and to study why some patients' cancers are resistant to treatment.

In addition, two OICR Translational Research Initiatives will receive support. One TRI will center on pancreatic cancer and the other, the Improved Management of Early Cancer project, will develop new strategies, such as biomarkers and imaging tools, to try to address the problem of over-diagnosis and over-treatment of early breast and prostate cancer.