McMaster scientists involved in new vaccine and immunotherapy network


McMaster scientists will be part of the newly created Canadian Network for Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics of Cancer and Chronic Viral Diseases (CANVAC. The federal government announced details of the new Network Friday in Montreal. CANVAC is a network of the most qualified science talent in Canada who will help to develop a cost-effective and accessible means for treating and preventing cancer and chronic viral diseases.

McMaster scientists Jack Gauldie and Ken Rosenthal are key investigators with CANVAC. Gauldie is the chair of the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine and co-director of the Centre for Gene Therapeutics at McMaster. His research involves gene therapy for cancer treatments and he has clinical trials of cancer vaccines currently in progress. McMaster professor of pathology Ken Rosenthal's research involves HIV infections and AIDS and the development of effective mucosal vaccines to induce immunity in the genital tract.

Together with other McMaster colleagues they will join over 60 investigators from 13 other Canadian universities who are set to work with the newly created network.

Through CANVAC, McMaster researchers will focus on the development of vaccines and immunotherapies targeting cancers (breast and prostate cancer), HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C virus. Each target disease is aligned with four themes that include:

7 New targets for immune modulation (e.g. antigen discovery) to augment desired immune responses
7 Novel technologies for vaccine delivery;
7 Novel technologies to measure immune response;
7 A systematic research program to best disseminate results of gene-modifying vaccine technology.

Graduate students and post-doctoral fellows will also benefit from McMaster's participation in CANVAC. A new training program will be initiated within the integrated structure of the network. McMaster students involved in CANVAC will have the chance to attend lectures and scientific meetings within the network, giving them a good overview of various aspects of biotechnology and modern vaccinology. They will also benefit from lab exchange opportunities, industry internships, and multidisciplinary programs and courses.

Participation in CANVAC will enhance the leading-edge research currently being undertaken in the Faculty of Health Sciences. The development of gene-based therapies to treat cancer as well as inflammatory and infectious diseases is one of the five key priority research areas identified by the Faculty which will lead McMaster down new pathways of discovery in this millennium.