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TFRI News | July 25, 2012

New pan-Canadian Terry Fox Research Institute network receives close to $4-million to find better tools to treat prostate cancer

ATTENTION MEDIA: Montreal, QC -- Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the third-leading cause of cancer-related death in Canadian men. Screening has enabled earlier diagnosis of prostate cancer, but with three out of four men actually diagnosed with a non-lethal form, should they all undergo the same treatment? A new pan-Canadian network of prostate cancer researchers formed by the Terry Fox Research Institute aims to address this need with approximately $4-million provided by the Terry Fox Foundation and the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. The funding was announced today at the CHUM Research Centre (CRCHUM).

TFRI's Canadian Prostate Cancer Biomarker Network (CPCBN) brings together top scientists and clinicians at leading prostate cancer care and research centres in Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia to take aim at answering this question with the goal of providing better tools - including new and more effective biomarkers -- to treat and manage the disease. Over the next four years, the group will work to identify new ways to determine what forms of prostate cancer require immediate treatment and which don't, as well as how to better predict which patients, following treatment (surgery or radiation therapy), are at risk of their cancer progressing.

Total funding for the network is $3,995,326, with the Partnership having provided $550,000.

"We are extremely pleased to create this important biomarker research network and to provide a total of $3.5 million to address an important clinical question that both doctors who treat the disease and men who are diagnosed with it must consider," said Mr. Darrell Fox, senior advisor for the Terry Fox Research Institute (TFRI). "Having more tools at their disposal for decision making will help clinicians to better determine what treatment is best for a patient's particular prostate cancer."

"Bringing together expertise and resources from across the country through this network will help to advance the science needed to improve the lives of Canadian men diagnosed with prostate cancer," says Dr. Robin Harkness, research specialist with the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, a national organization funded by Health Canada to lead the implementation of a co-ordinated cancer strategy, and executive director of the Canadian Cancer Research Alliance. "This is one of several projects the Partnership has launched with the Terry Fox Research Institute with the practical goal of identifying emerging technologies that can improve the early detection and treatment of cancer and lead to better outcomes."

"This new collaborative team has leadership and a track record across the research and clinical spectrums in understanding and treating prostate cancer and, collectively, they have excellent access to tissue samples and serum that are important to conducting studies to find new and effective biomarkers in this area. We appreciate the support of both the Terry Fox Foundation and the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer in funding this impressive network and the important work they are undertaking to improve care for patients," said Dr. Victor Ling, TFRI President and Scientific Director.

Dr. Fred Saad, professor and chief of urology at the CHUM and director of prostate cancer research at the Montreal Cancer Institute-CRCHUM, leads the study. "We're excited about the opportunity to work together to identify significant biomarker combinations to be used with existing clinical tools to allow clinicians to better assess the risk of tumour progression of early-stage tumours before and after treatment. If this study goes as we hope it will, its impact will be profound -- reducing recurrence and improving quality of life for men who have the disease - as well as bringing economic and societal benefits through the more efficient and effective use of health resources," says Dr. Saad.

He and project colleagues at CRCHUM will work with investigators at several partner institutions: McGill University, McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), the Research Institute of the MUHC , the Université Laval, the Centre hospitalier universitaire de Québec (CHUQ) in Quebec; Kingston General Hospital (Queen's University), Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, and the University Health Network (UHN) - Princess Margaret Hospital in Ontario; and the University of British Columbia, the Vancouver Prostate Centre and the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute in BC. The knowledge transfer will be performed in collaboration with experts from the three provinces as well as from Manitoba.

The investigators will contribute to the studies in various ways, including providing clinical samples and data from patients having undergone surgery and radiotherapy, and also patients who have been put on active surveillance. This network will also be combining research expertise in biomarker and genetic profiling of cancers that will greatly increase the speed at which results will be obtained.

The project will run until March 2016. The network has developed a knowledge translation component to reach out to interested partners and to engage the medical community in the implementation of their findings and including a biomarker-driven approach for diagnosing and managing the disease as an element in clinical decision making. These include: The Canadian Urology Association, NCIC Clinical Trials Group, The Canada Urologic Oncology Group, and Prostate Cancer Canada.

About The Terry Fox Research Institute

Launched in October 2007, The Terry Fox Research Institute (TFRI) is the brainchild of The Terry Fox Foundation (TFF). TFF maintains the vision and principles of Terry Fox while raising money for cancer research through the annual Terry Fox Run, National School Run Day and other fundraising initiatives which, to date, have raised over $600 million worldwide. TFRI seeks to improve significantly the outcomes of cancer research for the patient through a highly collaborative, team-oriented, milestone-based approach to research that will enable discoveries to translate quickly into practical solutions for cancer patients worldwide. TFRI collaborates with over 50 cancer hospitals and research organizations across Canada. TFRI headquarters are in Vancouver, BC.

About the CHUM

The Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CHUM) is the largest francophone teaching hospital in North America. Known for excellent care and the expertise of its specialists, every year it welcomes more than half a million patients not only from the greater Montreal region but also the entire province of Quebec. The essence of its mission is the application of innovative approaches to healthcare, the search for new knowledge, the promotion of health and the transfer of knowledge. Boasting a rich history, the CHUM is looking to the future with the ongoing construction of new facilities and its research centre in downtown Montreal, a comprehensive project on a single site valued at nearly $2.5 billion. The CHUM Research Centre will open its doors in 2013. It will be followed in 2016 by the unveiling of the new CHUM, a world-class teaching hospital in tune with its community where it plays a major role, in a socially aware perspective of sustainable development and concerted urban approach. It is also an active member of the Réseau universitaire intégré de santé (RUIS) de l'Université de Montréal.

For more information, contact:

Kelly Curwin Director, Communications and Public Affairs
Office: 604-675-8223
Cell: 778-237-8158

Sylvie Robitaille
Communication Advisor
Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal (CHUM)
Telephone: (514) 890-8000, extension 15262
Pager: (514) 801-1101