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Cancer and research: 10 reasons to give (2015)

Thanks to generous donors like you, the Canadian Cancer Society is able to fund more research projects than any other cancer charity in the country. In 2015, the CCS invested $7.3 million in about a hundred projects in Quebec alone. Here are the top 10 results obtained.

 Robert Day

1. A giant leap in the treatment of prostate cancer

Dr Robert Day, of Université de Sherbrooke, has discovered an enzyme that can be blocked with a drug to stop the growth of advanced prostate cancer and shrink tumours in the laboratory. This important discovery has attracted the interest of an organization specializing in the development of new drugs. It is working with Dr Day to transform this discovery into an easy-to-administer treatment.

2. A better understanding of cancer for improved treatments

A better understanding of all cancers increases the chances of their successful diagnosis and treatment. By studying the genetic activity of two types of acute myeloblastic leukemia, Dr Guy Sauvageau and his team at the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) discovered that one of them responds particularly well to certain treatments. This is a discovery that promises a better prognosis and survival rates for certain patients.

3. Early detection of breast cancer in a droplet of blood

Thanks to McGill University’s Dr David Juncker, a new diagnostic tool could help diagnose breast cancers early and monitor how patients respond to therapy. With his team, Dr Juncker has discovered six biomarkers in the blood of mice that can be detected and that increase with the size of the tumour, sometimes even before it’s visible to the naked eye. In time, this will lead to earlier diagnoses and more lives saved.

4. Increasing the anticancer properties of a protein

The Stat1 protein has a surprising dual role: it blocks the growth of tumours, but it also increases their resistance to chemotherapy treatments! To solely activate its anticancer role, Dr Antonis Koromilas, with his team at the Jewish General Hospital, has analyzed the Stat1 protein in detail. His work will facilitate the development of new drugs.

5. 3D vision

One of the worst characteristics of cancer cells is their ability to grow and multiply. Thanks to the work of Dr Marc Therrien’s team at Université de Montréal, we know a little more about a substance at the heart of these processes: the BRAF protein. These researchers have unveiled the three-dimensional structure of this protein, which will facilitate the development of new drugs to “turn it off”.

 Caroline Diorio

6. Preventing breast cancer through healthy eating

What impact does diet have on the risk of developing cancer? Caroline Diorio at Université Laval has found a part of the answer: premenopausal women with a high intake of sugar-sweetened drinks have greater breast density, so their risk of breast cancer is higher. This new knowledge was integrated into healthy eating guidelines, providing yet another way to prevent a disease which affects thousands of women in Quebec each year.

7. How do youths become smokers?

Why do some youths start smoking? How do they succeed in quitting? Thanks to Dr Jennifer O’Loughlin at the CHUM Research Centre, the answers are becoming clearer and clearer. The researcher and her team have been investigating tobacco addiction in the same group of youths since 1999 for the Nicotine Dependence in Teens (NDIT) study. This unique research project will help prevent the consumption of such a toxic and dangerous product more effectively in the years to come.

8. Fighting cancer resistance

Since the worst characteristic of cancer cells is their resistance to destruction, understanding how a cell dies is at the heart of the combat against cancer. This mechanism is now clearer thanks to the work of Dr Heidi McBride of the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital. The key to better fight the near indestructibility of cancer cells lies in the new tools that will evolve from these results.

9. Two treatments are better than one

To get to the bottom of drug-resistant cancers, Dr John White is synergizing several treatments to maximize their effect. With his McGill University team, he has created a hybrid treatment that activates vitamin D receptors and regulates the activity of certain genes. This combination has shown a positive impact against oral cancers.

10. Learn the language of cancer cells

The onset of cancer depends on a number of chemical signals telling cells how to multiply and grow. Dr Sylvain Meloche of the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) has discovered that two proteins – ERK1 and ERK2 – play very similar roles in these communications. This discovery is yet another lead to help us understand and beat cancer!

Make a donation for research today to enable researchers like Dr Day to continue their work. You’re perhaps not behind the microscope, but your role is just as important. You fund innovation. You save lives.



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