VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA -- (Marketwired) -- 06/26/13 -- Note to editors: B-roll video and still photographs are available for download at http://bccancerfoundation.com/media-resources
Researchers at the BC Cancer Agency will receive $10 million investment to further their work in finding a cost-effective, genomic approach to treat lymphoid cancer patients. The substantial support from Genome British Columbia, the BC Cancer Foundation, Genome Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) will dramatically advance therapies for patients diagnosed with the disease: lymphoid cancers are the fourth most common cancer in BC.
"This funding allows BC to become a real world laboratory to show how we can use genomic analysis cost-effectively to treat more cancer patients in a way that can readily be duplicated elsewhere around the world," says Dr. Joseph Connors, project leader and clinical director at the BC Cancer Agency's Centre for Lymphoid Cancer. "It brings together a culmination of decades of meticulous record-keeping with cutting-edge technology to maximize our knowledge about lymphoid cancers."
Dr. Connors adds that recent research has shown that genomic sequencing can recognize specific lymphoid cancers that are often untreatable with current technology. These cancers could be treated more effectively using personally designed treatments - and Dr. Connors and his team intend to provide this type of treatment in the near future.
Each patient's cancer is distinct; therefore treating them with a one-size-all approach is not efficient or cost effective and can put patients through unnecessary treatments that will not be of benefit to them. Personalized cancer treatment means determining the specific genetic characteristics of a patient's cancer and prescribing therapies that are customized for the unique molecular makeup of their cancer. Genomic sequencing is now able to accurately and quickly decode the entire genetic instructions in malignant and normal cells. This opens the possibility that doctors will be able to use this information to choose treatments that are specifically designed for that individual patient's cancer.
The research project will study four specific lymphoid cancers of which there are more than 500 cases each year in our province. In more than half of these cases primary treatment fails, and associated costs of secondary treatment run over $60,000 and this amount is often exceeded in just the cost of anti-cancer drugs alone. Personalized medical care employing sophisticated genomic techniques may dramatically reduce this cost: in the last few decades a number of new drugs have come on the market to improve patient outcomes but a drastically new approach is now required in order to apply the genomic information now available. Core components of the project will include careful analysis of all the costs that result from personalized lymphoid cancer care and development of economic analytic tools that enable healthcare planners to assess the economic impact of applying similar techniques to treating other cancers and other diseases.
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