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Terry Fox Foundation supports cancer research

Sep 11, 2014

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Sunnybrook researchers were awarded a new investment of $2 million over three years from The Terry Fox Foundation to support their research in quantitative ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to better tailor cancer therapy, as announced by the Terry Fox Research Institute on the occasion of the 34th annual cross-Canada Terry Fox Run.

The award is part of an overall research investment of $14.6 million from the Terry Fox Foundation to support projects nationally that will potentially revolutionize care for patients with hard-to-treat or advanced cancers through more personalized approaches.

Dr. Gregory Czarnota and Dr. Greg Stanisz, senior scientists at Sunnybrook Research Institute, in collaboration with Dr. Michael Kolios at Ryerson University, are using ultrasound and MRI for treatment monitoring. “Our goal is to develop these technologies to assess the effectiveness of cancer therapy sooner than is done with conventional imaging methods. A more accurate and faster determination of a therapy’s intended effect means if that if necessary, the treatment can be switched to a more effective regimen which better tailors treatment for the individual," says Dr. Czarnota, also a radiation oncologist at Sunnybrook’s Odette Cancer Centre.

The team has already demonstrated in early trials with 100 patients with locally advanced breast cancer, that ultrasound can be used into a four-to-six month course of chemotherapy to determine by the detection of cancer cell death or apoptosis, whether treatment is working. Related data has been published in Clinical Cancer Research.

The team will optimize this ultrasound method and develop complementary techniques using photo-acoustic imaging (specialized ultrasound imaging created using light) and led by Dr. Greg Stanisz, the team will also use MRI to monitor tumour cellular organization and metabolism to gauge how a tumour is responding, within potentially a few days of treatment.

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Full media release

Toronto (September 11, 2014)– Sunnybrook researchers were awarded a new investment of $2 million over three years from The Terry Fox Foundation to support their research in quantitative ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to better tailor cancer therapy, as announced by the Terry Fox Research Institute on the occasion of the 34th annual cross-Canada Terry Fox Run.

The award is part of an overall research investment of $14.6 million from the Terry Fox Foundation to support projects nationally that will potentially revolutionize care for patients with hard-to-treat or advanced cancers through more personalized approaches.

Dr. Gregory Czarnota and Dr. Greg Stanisz, senior scientists at Sunnybrook Research Institute, in collaboration with Dr. Michael Kolios at Ryerson University, are using ultrasound and MRI for treatment monitoring. “Our goal is to develop these technologies to assess the effectiveness of cancer therapy sooner than is done with conventional imaging methods. A more accurate and faster determination of a therapy’s intended effect means if that if necessary, the treatment can be switched to a more effective regimen which better tailors treatment for the individual," says Dr. Czarnota, also a radiation oncologist at Sunnybrook’s Odette Cancer Centre.

The team has already demonstrated in early trials with 100 patients with locally advanced breast cancer, that ultrasound can be used into a four-to-six month course of chemotherapy to determine by the detection of cancer cell death or apoptosis, whether treatment is working. Related data has been published in Clinical Cancer Research.

The team will optimize this ultrasound method and develop complementary techniques using photo-acoustic imaging (specialized ultrasound imaging created using light) and led by Dr. Greg Stanisz, the team will also use MRI to monitor tumour cellular organization and metabolism to gauge how a tumour is responding, within potentially a few days of treatment.

The team also recently demonstrated that ultrasound-stimulated microscopic bubbles, or microbubbles, can be used to further sensitize tumours to radiation therapy, or to increase the effectiveness of therapy. These radiation therapy enhancing treatments will also be combined with photo-acoustics, MRI-guidance and ultrasound and MRI-monitoring, to bring together all components of the research.

Today’s announcement is part of the Terry Fox New Frontiers Program Project Grants Competition. The Terry Fox Foundation has generously supported projects led by Sunnybrook Research Institute imaging scientists (Physical Sciences), including Drs. Peter Burns, Stuart Foster, Kullervo Hynynen and Martin Yaffe.

For more information, please contact:

Natalie Chung-Sayers, 416-480-4040

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