McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Canadian Cancer Society funds three scientists

Published: May 5, 2010
Mick Bhatia
Mick Bhatia, scientific director, McMaster Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute

Three scientists of the Faculty of Health Sciences are receiving new funding totalling $1.1 million from the Canadian Cancer Society for their work in innovative cancer research.

"It's thanks to the generosity of our supporters that we are able to contribute new funding to promising research that will impact cancer and is led by scientists dedicated to outsmarting this disease," said Rosemary Cabral, president of the Hamilton Wentworth Unit, Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division.

Mick Bhatia, scientific director of the McMaster Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute, is receiving $396,162 in funding towards developing a technique that allows new blood cells to be created from a patient's skin-derived adult stem cells. Eventually, this could lead to alternatives to stem cell transplants, which can be lifesaving for people with leukemia and other cancers where treatment has severely damaged the blood system but require donor matches that are difficult to find.

"This funding will help us to learn more about the potential of using a patient's own stem cells for their treatment," said Bhatia. "I appreciate the Canadian Cancer Society's investment in excellent cancer research."

David Andrews, professor of biochemistry and biomedical sciences, is studying how cancer cells develop and grow out of control. Cancer develops by shutting off the normal process of cell death. Some cancer treatments work when this process is turned back on. Andrews and his team are investigating a protein called Bax that controls cell death, together with other proteins that influence its activity. These proteins could be new targets for future cancer treatments. He is receiving $413,322.

"The Canadian Cancer Society's support for basic cancer research is critically important," said Andrews. "Basic research is where many exciting discoveries are made that have resulted in life-saving treatments and are likely to lead to saving lives and improving treatments down the road."

Ranjan Sur, professor of radiation oncology, is receiving $345,966 to lead a clinical trial in patients with lung cancer to evaluate the benefit of combining external radiation with brachytherapy — a treatment where radioactive seeds are implanted inside the cancer to target it more directly.

"With this funding from the Canadian Cancer Society, we hope to significantly improve the quality of life of patients living with lung cancer," said Sur. "By offering patients a new combination treatment through our study, we hope to provide longer relief to some very difficult symptoms of their disease."

Sixty-six new research grants were announced today by the Canadian Cancer Society. The awards, which span the country, total $24 million.

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