SU2C Dream Team to develop new drug combination to stop spread of breast cancer

At a press conference at McGill University today, Stand Up To Cancer Canada (SU2C Canada), the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS), and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) announced the launch of the SU2C Canada Metastatic Breast Cancer Dream Team to pursue the development of a new drug combination that may help stop the spread of breast cancer to other organs of the body.

The Dream Team is investigating a new way to treat metastatic breast cancer by making it impossible for breast cancer cells to manufacture the proteins they need to be aggressive and continue to spread to organs beyond the breast.

This new approach strikes at the very heart of metastatic breast cancer, a potentially fatal disease. If successful, the work would open a new approach to control metastatic breast cancer."

Phillip A. Sharp, PhD, Molecular Biologist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Sharp is also a Nobel laureate who serves as co-chairperson of the SU2C Canada Scientific Advisory Committee (CSAC).

The team will receive up to $6 million CAD supported by SU2C Canada, the CCS, and the CIHR. The first phase of funding ($2 million CAD) will support the initial clinical trial. Dependent on positive outcomes of that initial work, subsequent phases of funding will support additional preclinical and clinical studies. All SU2C Canada Dream Teams undergo semi-annual progress reviews. Scientific management and oversight is supported by SU2C Canada's Scientific Partner, AACR International-Canada.

Leading the team is Nahum Sonenberg, PhD, a professor and Gilman Cheney Chair in Biochemistry of the Department of Biochemistry at McGill University in Montreal. Serving as co-leader is Michael Pollak, MD, who holds the Alexander Goldfarb Research Chair in cancer research at McGill and directs the Division of Cancer Prevention of the Department of Oncology. Pollak is a senior investigator at the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research at Jewish General Hospital in Montreal.

"The new Dream Team is composed of distinguished Canadian scientists, led by Nahum Sonenberg, one of the world leaders on the mechanism of translation, the process by which our cells translate genetic information into proteins," said Alan Bernstein, OC, PhD, FRSC, president and CEO of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) and co-chair of the CSAC. "Canadian scientists have contributed enormously to our understanding of translational dysregulation and the consequences for driving cancer. The goal of this Dream Team is to find ways to overcome it."

The pan-Canadian clinical trial planned by the Dream Team will involve about 40 patients receiving treatment at the BC Cancer Agency in Vancouver, the University of Alberta in Edmonton, and McGill University in Montreal. The team is composed of several units, with members including:

Clinical Trials

  • Wilson H. Miller, MD, PhD, Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research, Montreal
  • Michael Pollak, MD, Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research, Montreal
  • John Mackey, MD, Cross Cancer Centre, Edmonton, Alberta
  • Karen Gelmon, MD, BC Cancer Agency, Vancouver
  • Elizabeth Eisenhauer, MD, Kingston (Ontario) General Hospital Research Institute Molecular Pathology Core
  • Poul Sorensen, MD, PhD, University of British Columbia
  • Lynne Postovit, PhD, Cross Cancer Centre, Edmonton, Alberta
  • Brad Nelson, PhD, BC Cancer Agency's Deeley Research Centre
  • Nahum Sonenberg, Goodman Cancer Centre, McGill University, Montreal
  • Michael Pollak, MD, Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research, Montreal
  • Sam Aparicio, MD, PhD, BC Cancer Agency Young Investigators
  • Daniela Quail, PhD, McGill University
  • Sonia del Rincon, PhD, Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research
  • Claudia Kleinman, PhD, Department of Human Genetics, McGill University Patient Advocates
  • Lynn Gentile, founder and director, Lynn and Joe Gentile Hope Fund
  • Candace Cook, breast cancer patient

"It's an honor to work with SU2C Canada, CCS, and CIHR on this important project," Sonenberg said. "As we better understand the process by which the genomic code is translated into proteins, we also gain a better understanding of how this process can go wrong and promote cancer and metastasis. We believe we can keep this aberrant process from occurring and thereby prevent metastatic cancer. The funding of our Dream Team makes it possible for us to investigate drug intervention very thoroughly."

"Metastatic breast cancer accounts for the majority of deaths related to breast cancer and there is an urgent need for innovative new treatments to target this disease," said Jennifer Wilson, director, research operations at CCS. "That's why we are thrilled to partner with SU2C Canada and CIHR to support this game-changing project to help people with metastatic breast cancer live longer and have a better quality of life. As the largest national charitable funder of cancer research, we are committed to funding research that will help create a world where no Canadian fears cancer."

"CIHR is pleased to collaborate with SU2C Canada and CCS to support top scientists who offer an innovative approach to metastatic breast cancer," stated Stephen Robbins, PhD, scientific director of CIHR's Institute of Cancer Research. "The strength of the new Dream Team resides in its composition; a multidisciplinary group of researchers from different institutions that unite to address the most pressing problems in cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. I congratulate the researchers for their important work that will contribute to better treatment and care for metastatic breast cancer patients."


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News-Medical.Net.
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