Patient-funded grant inspires chordoma research

21 January 2019

lifesaving researchFor the first time in its history, the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) has been able to fund research into chordoma, a rare cancer, thanks to a dedicated fundraiser who is currently living with the disease.

Chordoma is a rare cancer that affects the bones in the base of the skull and spine. It’s estimated that chordoma affects about 1 in 1,000,000 people each year. Although they are slow-growing, chordomas are often difficult to treat because they are located close to vital body parts such as the brain and spinal cord.

The ability to fund this research is the result of a community-driven partnership with the Chordoma Foundation based in the US and the Canadian Chordoma Network led by Steven Golick. Golick has been living with chordoma for the past 6 years and spearheaded the fundraising efforts to raise over $300,000 to support chordoma research in Canada.

“For everyone in the chordoma community, this is huge. We are on the cutting edge of new developments in chordoma research where we can now start to think of new treatments or possibly even cures for this disease,” says Golick. “These 2 grants are going to significantly accelerate progress in that direction.”

Dr Stephen Yip, at the BC Cancer Agency, and Dr Gelareh Zadeh, a recent CCS Awards for Excellence winner and a researcher at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto received the inaugural CCS Chordoma Research Grant.

Dr Yip is developing a new strategy to make immunotherapy more successful in treating chordomas. He and his team are testing a library of drugs to find ones that can make chordomas more vulnerable to immunotherapies, improving outcomes for people facing this disease.

Dr Zadeh is leading the largest biological study of chordoma ever undertaken to improve our overall understanding of the disease. Her research aims to uncover reasons why some tumours respond to therapy while others don’t and why some tumours come back after treatment.

“We are tremendously grateful for the generosity and leadership of donors like Steven who enable us to fund much-needed research like this,” says Dr Judy Bray, Vice President of Research at the Canadian Cancer Society. “It is so powerful to see someone who has been personally impacted by cancer rally their community to raise funds and make research happen.”

Did you know that you can fund game-changing researchers like Dr Yip and Dr Zadeh? Give a Gift of Research through CCS’s Gifts for the Cure program and help fund lifesaving research.