Canadian Cancer Society announces new innovation grants

The Canadian Cancer Society has announced 28 new innovation grants as part of its second round of funding. The goal of these grants is to support unconventional concepts, approaches or methodologies to address problems in cancer research.

All 28 new projects include elements of creativity, curiosity, investigation, exploration and opportunity. The projects were ranked according to their potential for “high reward” – to significantly impact understanding cancer and generate new approaches to combat the disease by introducing novel ideas into use or practice.

Among the projects funded are:

Microbubbles and heat

Dr Gregory Czarnota, Sunnybrook Hospital, $200,000 over three years
Heating (hyperthermia) has been used as an add-on to standard radiation therapy, but it has yet to be used as a stand-alone option for treatment. Dr Czarnota is studying the effects of using hyperthermia along with microscopic bubbles and ultrasound – both of which should enhance the heating effects on the tumour – as a treatment option that would be less invasive and more effective for cancer patients.

Histamines to fight cancer

Dr Jean Marshall, Dalhousie University, $184,448 over three years
While drugs that block histamine and its ability to trigger the immune response are widely used for helping minimize the side effects of cancer treatments, the body’s natural immune response is also thought to be an important player in the fight against cancer. Dr Marshall’s study will take an unconventional approach and look at how histamine can play a positive role in regulating the body’s ability to fight tumours, potentially impacting the way doctors manage many types of cancers.

Lung cancer breathalyzer

Drs Haishan Zeng and Stephen Lam, BC Cancer Research Centre, $183,688 over three years
Early detection and treatment of lung cancer increases the 5-year survival rate of the disease to greater than 90%. Drs Zeng and Lam are developing a new biochemical-based breath test for lung cancer screening that will make detection easier and more accessible to health care providers and patients. The test uses a novel, light-based detection system that is fast and inexpensive.

Chemotherapy and hearing loss

Dr Francois Meyer, CHUQ – Laval University Medical Research Centre, $145,774 over three years
Cisplatin is a drug used for treatment of both childhood and adult cancers, however one of the common side effects of the drug is a loss of hearing. Dr Meyer is the first to conduct a clinical trial with 30 patients using a safe and natural antioxidant called sodium thiosulphate to study its ability to prevent hearing loss in patients being treated with cisplatin.

Cancer-killing viruses

Dr Jean-Simon Diallo, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, $200,000 over 3 years
Dr Robert Korneluk, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, $200,000 over 3 years
Dr J. Andrea McCart, Toronto General Hospital, $200,000 over 3 years
Viruses can be engineered to specifically target cancer cells, leaving healthy cells intact. Drs Diallo, Korneluk and McCart are all taking a unique approach in harnessing the power of viruses to kill cancer cells. Each project involves improving the use of viruses so that they can one day be used in the clinic to treat cancer patients.

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