Detecting Cancer Earlier
Answering critical questions
Biobanks can transform the way researchers see diseases develop and thanks to an investment by Alberta Cancer Foundation donors, we are already seeing those results in this province. The Alberta Cancer Research Biorepository is a collection of high quality specimens—DNA, tumour cells, tissue and blood samples—that are used for research into new treatment for diseases. Imagine the power of thousands of these samples, allowing researchers to systematically identify gene profiles among similar tumour groups and find patterns and linkages that otherwise would be impossible. The collection is already paying off. Researchers at the Cross Cancer Institute used samples from the biobank to decode the complex genetic makeup of the deadliest form of breast cancer. Over the last five years, we have invested $6.1 million into this transformative collection.
Tailoring treatment to genetic profiles
Not all cancers are built equally. Cancer can be as unique as your fingerprint and understanding the mutation at the molecular level provides treatment options that are customized for the unique genetic profile. The challenge is to identify and test smart combinations of targeted drugs capable of successfully treating people according to their genetic make up. The Alberta Cancer Foundation has invested in this type of precision cancer medicine for years. For example, thanks to the support of our donors, scientists in this province played a big role in testing a combination of treatments to learn that the breast cancer drug Herceptin only works on women whose tumours have a genetic profile called HER-2 positive. That knowledge changed standard practice in Alberta and improved the lives of many Albertans and women around the world. Today, researchers across the province continue to develop new drugs at greater speeds and use predictive biomarkers to detect tumours earlier, improving the chance of treatment success. We continue to support the exciting advancements in this field.