McMaster professor will co-lead national breast cancer project


A McMaster professor will co-lead a national breast cancer project launched this week by the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Initiative.

CBCRI is providing $6.7 million in funding for two Streams of Excellence projects that will link the top researchers from different disciplines, and ensure they work together, handing off the results of their work so that research can more forward as quickly as possible in the race to find a cure for breast cancer. This new way of structuring teams of researchers will help new molecular targets through translational research and into new treatments more quickly.

McMaster associate professor of medicine Timothy Whelan and University of Toronto professor Irene Andrulis will co-lead the Streams of Excellence team that will study molecular changes in breast cancer.

The purpose of this project is to accelerate the discovery of new molecular changes and their use in the treatment of women with breast cancer. The work follows on the discovery of the Her2/neu gene, one of the first molecular changes associated with breast cancer, and the development of the new drug Herceptin, targeted at the abnormality.

“Research has become so complex that there is a tendency for barriers
between basic science and clinical research to increase,” says
Whelan. “With Streams of Excellence funding, we will be improve linkages between the different research areas to move the discoveries from basic science to the treatment of women with breast cancer as quickly as possible.”

Researchers will identify new molecular targets for the development of
new therapies and will study ways to increase the use of these
treatments for women with breast cancer. Other possible targets involve hepatocyte growth factor receptors and estrogen receptors, as well as newly identified genes. The research will cover a broad spectrum including basic science, clinical trials, and health services.

Researchers from Hamilton (including three others from McMaster — Mark Levine, John Hassell and William Muller), Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver are participating in the project. The project will receive $3.68 million over three years.

For more details on the two projects, see the press release posted at the Web site below.