OICR announces innovative initiative to drive development of new cancer therapies

The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) today announced the Cancer Therapeutics Innovation Pipeline (CTIP) initiative and the first 10 projects selected in CTIP's inaugural round of funding. CTIP aims to support the local translation of Ontario discoveries into therapies with the potential for improving the lives of cancer patients. The funding will create a new pipeline of promising drugs in development, and attract the partnerships and investment to the province necessary for further clinical development and testing.

"Ontario congratulates OICR on this innovative approach to driving the development of new cancer therapies," says Reza Moridi, Ontario's Minister of Research, Innovation and Science. "The Cancer Therapeutics Innovation Pipeline will help ensure that promising discoveries get the support they need to move from lab bench to commercialization, and get to patients faster."

The 10 projects, selected from 49 applications across Ontario, were evaluated by an international panel of drug discovery and development experts, and target a wide range of cancers, including brain, liver and kidney cancers, as well as leukemia.

"The quality of the projects put forward demonstrates the depth of talent and innovation in Ontario's biology and drug discovery sectors," says Dr. Christine Williams, Deputy Director of OICR. "We were very pleased with the tremendous response to this initiative. We congratulate the outstanding scientists involved and look forward to working with them in advancing their innovations toward the clinic."

Beyond financial support, CTIP projects will benefit from the guidance of the Therapeutics Pipeline Advisory Committee (TPAC), a group of experts from industry and academia. This group will provide the awardees with advice on the strategic direction of their projects and, together with OICR's commercialization partner, the Fight Against Cancer Innovation Trust (FACIT), assess the readiness of the innovations for partnerships.

Several projects aim to treat brain cancer, including two targeting an aggressive form of paediatric brain cancer called diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), which is resistant to chemotherapy and currently has no effective treatment. One of those projects, led by Dr. Cynthia Hawkins at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), will use the disease's unique underlying biology to help uncover drugs to target and destroy DIPG cancer cells while leaving normal cells unharmed.

"CTIP funding will allow us to use high-throughput screening to find drugs that can target the unique biological features of diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma cells," says Hawkins. "But beyond that, the support and expertise of those involved in CTIP will help us to work collaboratively to attract the partners needed to translate these discoveries into therapies that can help children diagnosed with this devastating disease."

OICR will continue to seek out new projects for its CTIP portfolio through future funding rounds.

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