Categorized | Health and Fitness

Cancer research renaissance in our own backyard

Cancer Research

By BC Cancer Foundation : The Afro News Vancouver

Scientists at the BC Cancer Agency are launching parallel voyages of discovery that are changing the face of cancer in British Columbia and around the world.

The BC Cancer Agency is the provincial organization responsible for cancer control on our collective behalf. It is a broad and diverse community of health professionals and specialists based in five regional centres across the province. In a single year, Agency staff will guide more than 20,000 British Columbians through their cancer experience – from prevention and screening, diagnosis and treatment, patient support and counseling, to rehabilitation or end of life care.

Uniquely, Agency scientists work side by side with their clinical colleagues, sharing questions and answers, as well as a constant focus on the best possible outcome for the patient.

We are now seeing the results of this close collaboration, in what has been described as a “golden age” of discovery.

In the first of a series of major breakthroughs in this past year, a pioneering team of ovarian cancer researchers, led by the Agency’s Dr. David Huntsman, found the single genetic mutation or “spelling mistake” in the three billion “letters” that make up the genetic code of an ovarian tumour cell.

This was a true eureka moment for Huntsman’s team. They recognized that this one consistent mutation could be the bull’s eye target in developing new treatments for all patients with this particular cancer. Their game-changing discovery was published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine and widely acknowledged in the global cancer community.

The next-generation computer technology provided by the BC Cancer Agency’s Genome Sciences Centre that decoded and sequenced the tumour cell’s three-billion-letter genome is another milestone achievement. A genomic task of this magnitude was unfathomable, in terms of both cost and complexity, even two years ago.

The power of genome sequencing continues to unravel the complexities of cancer in its 200-plus forms, as researchers and clinicians find more and more clues to its causes and cures.

Meanwhile, philanthropy is playing an increasingly significant role in funding this enterprising research. Last year, the BC Cancer Foundation, through its 30,000 donors across B.C., raised close to $33 million to invest in cancer research in B.C. – more than any other charity.

Many of the foundation’s donors are current or former cancer patients, grateful for the gold-standard care they received at their regional BC Cancer Agency Centre and keenly aware that research is our best hope. Their donor dollars act as the fuel to launch and sustain a promising investigation which, once established, can then be leveraged several times over through external grants and awards.

As partners in discovery, the BC Cancer Agency and BC Cancer Foundation are poised to change the cancer landscape, not only here at home in B.C., but across Canada and well beyond.

BC Cancer Foundation

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