New Developments in Cancer Research
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.
Who We Are
The BC Cancer Agency is a community of health professionals and specialists in five regional centres across the province. Together they guide over 20,000 British Columbians a year through the entire spectrum of cancer control – from prevention and screening, diagnosis and treatment, patient support and counselling, to rehabilitation and end of life care.
Agency scientists work side by side with their clinical colleagues, sharing questions, answers and knowledge, with a shared focus on the best possible outcome for their patients.
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” of 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 a 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 of the 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 genomics 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 enterprising research. Last year, the BC Cancer Foundation, through its 30,000 donors across B.C., rose 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 collective best hope. Their dollars act as the fuel that can launch and sustain a promising investigation which, once established, can then be leveraged several times over through external grants and awards.
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