McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

McMaster receives $3.6 million from province for cancer research

by Laura Thompson
Published: June 11, 2009
Jonathan Bramson
Jonathan Bramson, a professor of pathology and molecular medicine and primary investigator of ORBiT at the McMaster site

The Ontario government awarded $3.6 million to McMaster University today as part of a major funding announcement to boost cancer and genomics research across the province.

Premier Dalton McGuinty announced a total of $10 million in funding for the new Ontario Regional Biotherapeutics program (ORBiT), which involves McMaster, the University of Toronto and the University of Ottawa, the lead site for the project.

Biotherapeutics is a term used to describe treatments based on biological materials including cells, genes and viruses. In cancer, biological therapies are designed to specifically attack malignant cells without harming normal tissue.

ORBiT aims to develop a variety of biotherapeutics for the treatment of cancer, including oncolytic viruses, anti-cancer vaccines and cell-based therapies.

For its role in the project, McMaster will participate in multi-centre clinical trials of oncolytic viruses in patients with liver cancer and melanoma. Researchers will also carry out clinical trials to test the benefit of combining oncolytic viruses with cancer vaccines.

As well, researchers at McMaster will establish the only clinical-grade facility in Ontario for the analysis of human immune responses to cancer. The Ontario Institute of Cancer Research has already provided $900,000 in capital and $440,000 in operating expenses for the facility, bringing the total McMaster investment in ORBiT to more than $4.9 million.

"McMaster University is a Canadian leader in the development of vaccines to fight cancer," said Jonathan Bramson, a professor of pathology and molecular medicine and primary investigator of ORBiT at the McMaster site.

"The ORBiT program provides an amazing opportunity to combine McMaster’s vaccine program with other biological therapies that have been developed by the various ORBiT members.  We expect these combined efforts will have a net benefit on the survival and health of Ontarians afflicted with cancer."

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