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Scientists in Ontario, Israel Team to Investigate Pancreatic Cancer Metastasis

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Scientists in Canada and Israel will partner to investigate pancreatic cancer, identify drivers of disease metastasis, and discover biomarkers for use in identifying and treating the disease, the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research said today.

The partners in the study include researchers at the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada (IMRIC) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Sheba Medical Center, and OICR. The project is funded by an undisclosed multi-year commitment from Sylvia M. G. Soyka, director of the board of trustees at the SMGS Family Foundation, OICR said.

Under the initiative, investigators at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto and at Sheba Hospital and IMRIC in Israel will provide samples and clinical data, primarily from advanced and metastasized pancreatic cancer cases, which will augment an existing biobank of early stage tumors.

OICR's scientists will conduct high-throughput molecular analysis of the tumors and will extract the molecular data, while IMRIC researchers will use the patient samples to conduct further molecular analyses and experimental studies.

"Pancreatic cancer remains the most deadly type of solid tumor in the developed world, with overall survival of less than five percent," Steven Gallinger, director of OICR's Pancreatic Cancer Research Initiative, said in a statement.

Roughly 80 percent of patients with advanced disease are not eligible for surgery and have extremely poor diagnosis, OICR said, yet these advanced forms of the cancer have been "understudied" and a better molecular understanding of how tumors grow and spread is needed.

"By better understanding pancreatic cancer at a molecular level, we can develop the critical new personalized tools needed to detect, diagnose, and treat pancreatic tumors sooner, and potentially improve the lives of those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the future," Gallinger said.

Ultimately, OICR said, these tools could include biomarkers for detecting and diagnosing pancreatic cancer and for developing targeted therapies that could improve outcomes.