Research Investments: 2016

2016 was an important year for Pancreatic Cancer Canada and the direction of our research investments. We fulfilled research commitments as part of our Pancreatic Cancer Canada Innovation Grants program, invested in new equipment that aids in pancreatic cancer surgeries, and funded a new strategy for pancreatic cancer treatment along side the Canadian Cancer Society. Most notably, we began to focus our research efforts on some of the most exciting and integral research done in pancreatic cancer: genomic analysis.

Profiling of Pancreatic Cancer Survivors (POPS)

Dr. Malcolm Moore & Dr. Steven Gallinger, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre (ON)

This project was one of the pioneering investigations into genetic signatures in long-term pancreatic cancer survivors. The study aimed to understand if genetic information could be useful for doctors to identify patients with a good long-term prognosis. It also helped inform treatment options for those patients with a higher risk of relapse following surgery.

Study of Genomics

Dr. Steven Gallinger, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre (ON)

This was our first investment in the genetic analysis study that would become COMPASS, one of the foundational studies of our PancOne™ research network. COMPASS involves comprehensive real time genomic analysis of advanced (metastatic and locally advanced) PDAC  tumours, using the whole genome for a clinically meaningful turn around time, meaning it has the potential to impact treatment decisions for participating patients.

Pancreatic Cancer Canada Innovation Grants

In 2016 we had a number of diverse research investments, primarily due to our PCC Innovation Grant competition, which awarded funding to five innovative researchers. These operating grants focused on understanding more about pancreatic cancer and experimenting with new ways to treat the disease. We were proud to fund the following researchers and their enterprising projects:

  • Dr. Ralph DaCosta, Cancer Care Ontario (ON) – “Synchronous radiotherapy enhancement of pancreatic cancer with X-ray induced photodynamic therapy and oxygen generating nanoparticles”
  • Dr. Dan Renouf, BC Cancer Agency (BC) – “The effects of neoadjuvant metformin on tumour cells proliferation and tumour progression in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma”
  • Dr. Sachdev Sidhu, University of Toronto (ON) – “Development and characterization of synthetic antibodies against pancreatic cancer targets”
  • Dr. Igor Stagljar, University of Toronto (ON) – “Elucidation of aberrant K-RAS signaling pathways in Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma (PDAC) using MaMTH, a novel proteomics technology”
  • Dr. Janel Kopp, University of British Columbia (BC) – “Cellular Origins of Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma”

Pancreatic Cancer Radiotherapy Study Group Trial (PanCRS)

Dr. Laura Dawson, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre (ON)

This research investment was a contribution of data cultivated in Toronto for a treatment study conducted at Stanford University. The goal of this study was to determine the safety and efficacy of a chemotherapy regimen known as Modified FOLFIRINOX (mFFX) alone or with the addition of Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy (SBRT). The aim of this study was to learn if this new treatment combination could help control the disease and improve survival for patients with locally advanced pancreatic cancer.

Oncolytic Virus Study

Dr. Rebecca Auer, The Ottawa Hospital (ON)

Dr. Auer developed a vaccine containing oncolytic (or cancer-killing) viruses intended to outsmart cancer cells, which often trick the immune system and escape detection. Oncolytic viruses are designed to safely travel through the body to seek out and destroy cancer cells while leaving normal cells intact. At the same time, the viruses can be engineered to strengthen the immune system to mount a powerful attack on cancer cells.

This study was funded in 2016 and 2017 in cooperation with Canadian Cancer Society as a CCS Innovation to Impact Grant.

Equipment Investment: Intraoperative Ultrasound

Princess Margaret Cancer Centre (ON)

This intraoperative ultrasound was funded specifically to assist in pancreatic cancer surgeries at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.