Research News

Stopping cancer in its tracks By Rosie Hales, Communications Officer

The grant from the Canadian Cancer Society will provide opportunities for collaborations between researchers.

Researcher Andrew Craig understands the importance of stopping metastasis, the leading cause of cancer-related deaths. And with an innovation grant of $193,798 from the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS), Dr. Craig and his team hope to get one step closer.

“Metastasis – or the spread of cancer from its primary tumour site to another location in the body – is a critical stage to prevent. This grant from the CCS will allow us to conduct research on metastasis and develop new tools to prevent it,” says Dr. Craig. “Many current therapies are focused on trying to shrink tumours and have a limited ability to prevent the spread of tumours.

Dr. Craig and several talented trainees are developing and testing inhibitory antibodies targeting key signals that cancer cells require for metastasis.  These novel antibodies are being developed with collaborators in Toronto, and Dr. Craig’s team is actively profiling them to identify the most effective ones against highly metastatic breast and skin cancers. 

Antibodies are proteins found in the blood that are produced to respond to and counteract foreign substances in the body, but have been increasingly used to specifically target cancer.

“This grant will allow us to identify lead antibodies and test their potency in pre-clinical models of metastatic cancer,” says Dr. Craig. “We will strive to secure the additional funding and partners that will be needed to translate these tools into new immunotherapies for clinical trials in human cancer patients.”

This grant, made possible by donations to the CCS, has attracted new post-doctoral fellows and graduate students to Dr. Craig’s research team.

“Being able to develop and maintain a strong research-intensive atmosphere is another extremely important part of receiving this grant support,” says Dr. Craig. “The opportunities for collaboration as a result of bringing in new researchers is invaluable to tackling this challenging disease.”

This funding was provided by the Canadian Cancer Society Innovation Grants program.

Researchers working towards a cure

(posted Thursday November 6, 2014 by Anne Craig, Communications Officer, Queen’s News Centre)
Four Queen’s University professors have received funding from the Cancer Research Society to continue their research into treatments for cancer. Lois Mulligan, Bruce Elliott, Peter Greer (QCRI Cancer Biology & Genetics division/Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine) and Madhuri Koti (QCRI Associate member/Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) each received a $120,000 grant.
     “Queen’s University has extensive expertise in fields of cancer research and treatment, both fundamental and clinical,” says Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research). “The investment being made is a testament to the strength of our researchers and potential to make a significant difference to a very important health issue. I look forward to watching the progress of these four remarkable researchers unfold with the support of the Cancer Research Society.”
     The specific projects are as follows:
- Dr. Koti is working to identify mechanisms in the immune system within the cancerous tumour that might contribute to individual differences in response to chemotherapy. This research will allow a personalized treatment approach for patients living with ovarian cancer.
- Dr. Mulligan is focusing on a molecule called RET that helps convey signals to cells allowing them to grow or move. In a growing number of cancers, RET has been shown to help the cancerous tumour grow and spread to other sites. Her research will explore the roles of RET, which will provide tools to understand the system and combat human cancer.
- Dr. Greer is studying Arpin, a recently discovered protein that plays a role in the spread of cancer. His research looks at how the disruption of Arpin in breast cancer cells blocks their ability to spread from the breast to other organs such as the liver and lungs. He is working to prove the theory that Arpin inhibition could help prevent the spread of breast cancer.
- Dr. Elliott and his team are working to understand the mechanisms of cancer metastasis to the lymph nodes, a key indicator of a poor outcome in cancer patients. He is developing a model to image this metastasis process in real time to provide better understanding of the process. This information will move us a step closer to testing therapies that can prevent early cancer spread to the lymphatic system.

Four new Canada Research Chairs for Queen's 
(posted Thursday October 16, 2014, by Rosie Hales, Communications Officer, the Queen’s News Centre)
      Four outstanding Queen’s professors have been named Canada Research Chairs, and two current Queen’s chairholders have had their positions renewed.
     The Canada Research Chairs program invests approximately $265 million per year to make Canada one of the world’s top countries in research and development. Chairholders are leading researchers in their areas and improve Canada’s depth of knowledge in the natural sciences, health sciences, humanities, and social sciences.
     “Queen’s success in earning four new Canada Research Chairs and two renewals is indicative of our leadership in the research behind some of the most pressing matters in the world today,” says Steven Liss, Vice-Principal (Research). “We’re very proud and fortunate to be able to support some of the world’s most accomplished and promising researchers.”
     The university’s new chair recipients are Christopher Booth, Mark Daymond, Jeffrey Masuda and Dylan Robinson. Tucker Carrington and David Murakami Wood have had their appointments renewed.
     Christopher Booth (Oncology) has been named the Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Population Cancer Care. Dr. Booth is a medical oncologist with Kingston General Hospital, a clinician-scientist at the Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario, and an associate professor at Queen’s. The focus of Dr. Booth’s research program is to evaluate the effectiveness of new therapies in the general population and the quality of care delivered to patients in routine clinical practice.
     “Being awarded the Canada Research Chair in Population Cancer Care is a tremendous honour and will make a major contribution to our research program,” says Dr. Booth. “I am fortunate at Queen’s to work within the Division of Cancer Care and Epidemiology, which is a world-class research unit dedicated to the study of cancer care and outcomes in the ‘real world.’”
For more information on Canada Research Chairs, follow this link.
     The Canada Research Chairs (CRC) program has stood at the centre of a national strategy to make Canada one of the world’s top countries in research and development since 2000. The CRC program invests approximately $265 million per year to attract and retain some of the world’s most accomplished and promising minds. Canadian universities both nominate Canada Research Chairs and administer their funds. For each Tier 1 chair, the university receives $200,000 annually for seven years and for each Tier 2 chair, the university receives $100,000 annually for five years.
     Queen’s distinguishes itself as one of the leading research-intensive institutions within Canada. The mission is to advance research excellence, leadership and innovation, as well as enhance Queen’s impact at a national and international level. Through undertaking leading-edge research, Queen’s is addressing many of the world’s greatest challenges, and developing innovative ideas and technological advances brought about by discoveries in science, engineering and health.