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British Columbia Pledges $2.1M in Funding for Personalized Cancer Therapy Program

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The British Columbia Cancer Agency is set to receive C$3 million ($2.1 million) in funding from the Canadian government to support its ongoing effort to use genome sequencing to develop personalized treatment strategies for cancer patients, British Columbia Premier Christy Clark announced yesterday.

The money is being provided to the BC Cancer Foundation, the agency's fundraising arm, and adds to the C$2 million that it received in October for breast cancer research. Earlier last year, the BC Cancer Agency received $12.5 million from the BC Cancer Foundation for its personalized genomics efforts. 

"The future of cancer care is personalized, leading to the best, targeted treatments for the most challenging cases — and we've already seen a number of success stories coming out of this program," Clark said in a statement. "A growing, diverse economy gives us the ability to support the BC Cancer Foundation in spearheading significant research projects that cure illness, improve treatments, and save lives."

In 2010, BC Cancer Agency researchers reported on the use of advanced sequencing techniques to create a personalized therapy for a patient with a rare form of oral cancer. Five years later, the agency kicked off its Personalized Onco-Genomics (POG) clinical trial program, which aimed to sequence the genomes of about 300 cancer patients in order to identify optimal treatment regimens for them.

According to the BC Cancer Agency, the POG program now aims to enroll 2,000 cancer patients over the next five years, with a focus on individuals with metastatic disease. At present, the study enrolls between six and eight patients and week, and has treated people with 50 types of cancer. 

"We are seeing proof on the ground that innovations in personalized health care from the BC Cancer Agency make a big difference — giving hope to those with the most aggressive or recurring forms of cancer," British Columbia Health Minister Terry Lake added in the statement.