Dr. Weeks’ Comment Cancer STEM cells finally getting funding.
TORONTO — Princess Margaret Hospital displayed a 400-ounce bar of gold in a bagpipe-led procession Thursday to announce a billion-dollar initiative to create personalized cancer medicine for patients. The hospital billed it as a “gold standard” and the largest single fundraising campaign in the history of Canadian health care.
“Changing the paradigm of cancer care requires a major investment,” said Paul Alofs, President and CEO of the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation.
The hospital aims to reach the $1-billion milestone in five years, with $500 million coming from donors and $500 million coming from grants secured by hospital researchers.
The donations will allow the hospital to hire more researchers in such fields as epigenetics, genetic sequencing, immune therapy, molecular imaging and nanotechnology, as well as expanding and renovating work spaces and technology.
The campaign will launch next week.
Patient Robert Kidd spoke at the event about his experience with liver and pancreatic cancer. Radiation treatment didn’t work well, so the hospital matched Kidd to a more specific treatment as part of a clinical trial. His cancer has now gone into remission.
“My life is virtually normal, complete with dreams and hopes,” he said, describing buying work boots to garden and ski boots to go on a Christmas ski vacation.
The definition of personalized cancer medicine involves detecting cancers earlier, analyzing and targeting them more precisely and providing greater support.
Traditional cancer treatments have been provided by type, such as breast cancer or prostate cancer, but it is now known that there are many sub-types of cancer — up to 16 sub-types of breast cancer, for example — all of which could require a different treatment, the hospital says.
In the 1960s, one out of three people would survive cancer compared to two out of three today, Alofs said.
The hospital and its research arm, the Ontario Cancer Institute, have developed an international reputation as one of the top five cancer research centres in the world, with a 1,000-person research team. The stem cell, T cell receptor and cancer stem cell were all discovered at the Princess Margaret.