Ottawa cancer researchers to play lead role in new immunotherapy initiative, worth $4 million

May 25, 2017

The Ontario Institute of Cancer Research (OICR) has awarded $4 million to a team of researchers working to harness the immune system to attack cancer. Called cancer immunotherapy, this area of research was dubbed “breakthrough of the year” by Science in 2013 and has been growing ever since. It can involve the use of drugs, cells and viruses to target many different kinds of cancer.

The grant is one of five new OICR Translational Research Initiatives announced today by Reza Moridi, Ontario’s Minister of Research, Innovation and Science. It is co-led by Dr. John Bell of The Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa and Dr. Marcus Butler of the University Health Network and the University of Toronto.

“Immunotherapy is very exciting because it has the potential to completely eliminate even advanced cancers, but it doesn’t work for everyone,” said Dr. John Bell. “This new funding will help us test some innovative new strategies, both in the laboratory and the clinic, so that we can continue to refine this approach and hopefully help many more people.”

The funding will support:

In addition to Drs. Bell and Butler, the project also involves Drs. Rebecca Auer, Guy Ungerechts, David Stojdl, Jonathan Bramson, Rosalyn Juergens, Brian Lichty, Pamela Ohashi, Martin Yaffe, Naoto Hirano, Phillip Awadalla, David Brooks and Tracy McGaha.

Dr. Stojdl of the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario and the University of Ottawa was also awarded funding for a separate project in this competition, related to brain cancer.

Dr. Bell (pictured above) is a senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital and professor at the University of Ottawa. He is also the Scientific Director of BioCanRx and a co-founder of Turnstone Biologics.

Turnstone Biologics is the sponsor and primary funder for the clinical trials noted above.

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