The Cancer Stem Cell Program is determining whether cancer stem cells are clinically relevant by expanding the knowledge of tumour-initiating cells in several types of cancer, characterizing cancer stem cells and translating their properties into improved tools for clinicians and therapeutics for patients. It has already established that cancer stem cells are clinically relavant across at least four different tumour types: head and neck, breast and musculoskeletal cancer, and leukemia.
The Drug Discovery Program will efficiently translate cancer-related academic discoveries into novel oncology therapies that will have a significant impact on cancer patients. Its three major functional areas are chemistry (medicial, analytical and computational), drug delicery and formulation (focused on nanotechnology), and cell biology and biochemistry. Group members bring a collective depth and breadth of academic, pharmaceutical and biotech experiences. They have expertise in key disciplines, as in typical in the pharmaceautifual setting, required to run a drug discovery operation cost-effectively. Program members have a track record of delivering high-quality leads and clinical candidates while applying the quality standards and rigour of industry.
The Genome Technologies Program uses cancer genome sequencing and other high-throughput techniques to identify genes critical to the development of cancer and anomalies in the genomic profile of tumours. Genetic mutations involved in pancreatic and prostate cancer are being mapped as part of the Program's role in the International Cancer Genome Consortium.
The Health Services Research Program is a joint effort by OICR and Cancer Care Ontario. It addresses issues such as comparing risks, benefits and costs of novel interventions, barriers to dissemination of new information and technologies, and evaliation of the quality of cancer services provided to the population across the entire continuum of care. The Program's objective is to enhance Ontario's capacity to do research that informs health policy, optimizes the delivery of cancer care, and maximizes the benefits of the province's cancer discovery program. It achieves this by addressing human resources needs, research data infrastructure, and coordination of efforts applied to answering the important health services questions facing cancer control today.
OICR's Immuno- and Bio-therapies Program is called the Ontario Regional BioTherapeutics (ORBiT) Program. Its mandate is to coordinate and drive the clinical testing and translation of promising anti-cancer biotherapies being developed in three Ontario research clusters. Working closely together, the members of ORBiT are designing and executing hypothesis testing clinical studies. The team's continuing objective is to develop therapeutic cell and/or viral based strategies for the treatment of cancer.
The Imaging Translation Program is accelerating the development of imaging tools and techniques for earlier detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Targeted imaging probes are one type of the specialized tools being developed. The Program aims to streamline advances into the clinic and marketplace to improve screening and treatment options for cancer patients.
The Imaging Translation Program was established to address the fact that no imaging group in Ontario has all the necessary components to translate innovation through the complex pipeline from discovery to clinical translation and commercialization. This has presented a practical impediment to further progress or at least has markedly slowed progress. The Imaging Translation Program’s goal is to increase Ontario's capability to accelerate the translation of research into the development of new imaging probes for early cancer detection into clinical practice.
The Informatics and Bio-computing Program is integral to the coordination and integration of OICR's basic and translational research activities. Program investigators develop databases and analytic pipelines to manage genomic, genetic and phenotypic data, create visualization tools to enable the mining of this data for new knowledge about the causes and progression of cnacer, facilitate the validation of potential cancer targets and assist in the translation of this knowledge into new therapies and diagnostic techniques. The Program develops and maintinas essential infrastructure for the OICR community, including shared computing facilities, network infrastructure, websites and collaborative software systems. It is also responsible for outreach to the lay and research communities. It holds bioinformatics workshops and activities to support cancer research at OICR and in the larger cancer research community.
The Innovation in Target Validation Program is developing and deploying innovative technologies in aid of cancer target discovery and validation. The objects of the Program are to:
The Ontario Health Study is an innovative population-based health study which serves as an integrated platform for investigating the complex interplay of environmental, lifestyle and genetic components which increase individual and community risk of developing cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, Alzheimer's disease and other common adult diseases.
The Study is collecting data from consenting people 18 years of age and over living in Ontario through participation in an online questionnaire. The Study will be the largest volunteer cohort study ever conducted in Ontario. Special efforts will be made to capture the ethnic, geographic and cultural diversity of Ontario. The intent is to follow participants for their entire lifespan. More than 231,000 people have participated to date. The Study is part of the larger Canadian Partnership for Tomorrw Project, which has recruited more than 300,000 participants, making it Canada's largest population health research platform.
The Smarter Imaging Program has two objectives - to detect cancer and to characterize it at early stages of development so that the most appropriate treatment options can be selected.
The program develops and implements new imaging techniques and probes to detect, analyse and treat cancer earlier through:
The goal of the Transformative Pathology Program is to make Ontario a worl leader in the molecular pathology of cancer. The program is developing novel molecular diagnostic approaches to cancer to equip the next generation of clinicians/scientists to implement and further develop molecular companion diagnostic approaches. It provides pathology expertise for OICR's translational research initiatives, especially the over-aggressive treatment of early breast cancer and the ove-diagnpsis of prostate cancer.
The PanCuRx initiative integrates genomic, biology, imaging and pre-clinical efforts to develop new treatment approaches for pancreatic cancer. The goal is to improce the treatment and management of pancreatic cancer, which is currently the fourth most common cause of cancer death in Canada and for which therapeutic progress has been very limited, which a dismal survival rate of five per cent at five years after initial diagnosis.
The Improved Management of Early Cancer (IMEC) initiative is developing new approaches to distinguish aggressive versus non-invasive disease and will rely on the development of new biomarkers based on clinical samples and new imaging technologies. Participation of OICR's Health Services Research Program will ensure that strategies recommended by IMEC are implemented and are associated with health benefits. IMEC will focus on producing tangible benefits for breast and prostate cancer patients in the next five years.