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Putting colorectal cancer on the map

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 6:00 AM


"Google Street View" of the colon just one innovation supported by Canadian Cancer Society grants

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TORONTO, March 19, 2013 /CNW/ - Researchers in Hamilton, Ontario, have developed an innovative solution to the difficult problem of looking deep within the human colon for signs of cancer. It is "street-view" mapping - the same way Google does it - using cameras to take pictures in every direction.

"Unlike conventional colonoscopy, which only looks straight ahead, this new method can be likened to Google Street View, giving us a panoramic view of the colon and helping us identify the exact locations of suspicious growths or lesions," says Dr Qiyin Fang, an associate professor and Canada Research Chair in Biophotonics at McMaster University.

Dr Fang has received a $194,000 Innovation Grant from the Canadian Cancer Society to develop and test the new imaging technology. His project is one of 37 new Canadian Cancer Society Innovation Grants announced today. These grants, worth over $7 million in total, support research that has the potential to significantly improve our understanding of cancer and generate new approaches to prevention, early detection and treatment.

Dr Fang's project will use a near-infrared light imager to take thousands of pictures and use blood vessels as "landmarks" to create a map of the colon. The images will then be analyzed using complex algorithms, zeroing in on suspicious growths that require follow-up. This first-of-its-kind approach is expected to lead to improved methods of diagnosing and treating colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death for men and women combined. Last year, an estimated 23,300 Canadians were diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 9,200 died of it.

Early detection of polyps is a vital part of fighting the disease, but polyps can sometimes hide within the constantly moving folds of the colon. With this new imaging technique, it will be much easier to detect and relocate abnormalities.

"The research we're funding through these Innovation Grants demonstrates that Canadian scientists are some of the most creative and committed in their fight against cancer," says Dr Siân Bevan, Director, Research for the Canadian Cancer Society. "We're thrilled to be able to support projects that have the potential to dramatically change the way we understand cancer and how we prevent, diagnose and treat the disease."

Other Innovation Grants

With a $200,000 Innovation Grant, Dr Catherine O'Brien, a surgeon in the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre at University Health Network in Toronto, will study the link between bacteria in the colon and cancer development.

The human colon normally contains several hundred generally harmless and mostly helpful bacteria. However, research is showing that some bacteria are able to invade colon cancer cells (normal colon cells do not typically contain intracellular bacteria). The key question to be answered is whether the invasive bacteria inside the cells play a role in causing colon cancer or whether they are the result of the cancer. The answer could lead to new treatment and screening strategies.

The Society's Innovation Grants program supports innovative, creative problem solving and unconventional concepts, approaches or methodologies in cancer research. See our media backgrounder for more information about Dr O'Brien's and other new Innovation Grants.

About the Canadian Cancer Society
For 75 years the Canadian Cancer Society has been with Canadians in the fight for life. We have been relentless in our commitment to prevent cancer, fund research and support Canadians touched by cancer. From this foundation, we will work with Canadians to change cancer forever so fewer Canadians are diagnosed with the disease and more survive.

Visit cancer.ca or call us at 1-888-939-3333 (TTY 1-866-786-3934).

Media backgrounder - Innovation Grants

Dr Catherine O'Brien studying the link between bacteria in the colon and cancer development
Dr O'Brien and her colleagues will be the first to study the role of intracellular bacteria - bacteria found inside colon cancer cells - in colorectal cancer development and metastases (spread). Early research shows that intracellular bacteria may be playing a key role in the formation and spread of colon cancer.

Many cancers have already been linked to infectious viruses and bacteria. For example human papillomavirus, or HPV, is considered the primary cause of most cervical cancers. H. pylori bacteria can cause stomach cancer and some strains of hepatitis can lead to liver cancer. However, the link between bacteria and colorectal cancer is relatively unexplored.

"With this project, we're looking at the development of colorectal cancer in a completely new way and it could change the way we think about and treat colorectal cancer," says Dr O'Brien.

A few of the other new Innovation Grants:

Dr Dirk Lange, Vancouver, $185,578 - Using a freshwater bacterium that is effective at treating cancers in mice, Dr Lange is developing a new treatment for bladder cancer, a disease which has an 80% recurrence rate. Dr Lange will refine the bacteria to make it more effective at slowing early tumour growth, decreasing the size of later tumours, and activating the cancer fighting cells of the body's immune system to provide a new treatment option.

Dr Spencer Gibson, Winnipeg, $200,000 - Dr Gibson is studying the role of a new form of cell death -- lysosome membrane permeabilization (LMP) -- in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), the most common form of adult leukemia that is often drug resistant and results in relapse. Dr Gibson will determine how LMP induces cell death and how this process can be used to make CLL more sensitive to chemotherapy.

Dr Michel Tremblay, Montreal, $200,000 - T cells, a crucial component of the body's immune system, can kill tumours but cancers can put the brakes on their cancer fighting abilities. Adoptive T cell therapies have emerged that isolate these cells from cancer patients, modify them, and then transfer them back into patients. Dr Michel Tremblay and his colleagues are testing a promising new strategy to boost T cell activity which limits a protein - TC-PTP - in order to enhance T cell survival and function.

About the Canadian Cancer Society
For 75 years the Canadian Cancer Society has been with Canadians in the fight for life. We have been relentless in our commitment to prevent cancer, fund research and support Canadians touched by cancer. From this foundation, we will work with Canadians to change cancer forever so fewer Canadians are diagnosed with the disease and more survive. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website at cancer.ca or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333; TTY, 1 866 786-3934.

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Image with caption: "Dr. Qiyin Fang and his research team are first to develop a new method to examine the colon that can be likened to "Google Street View", giving a panoramic view of the colon and helping to identify the exact locations of suspicious growths and lesions. (CNW Group/Canadian Cancer Society (National Office))". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20130319_C5967_PHOTO_EN_24627.jpg

Image with caption: "Dr. Catherine O'Brien and her colleagues are the first to study the role of intracellular bacteria - bacteria found inside colon cancer cells - in colorectal cancer development and metastases (spread). Early research shows that intracellular bacteria may be playing a key role in the formation and spread of colon cancer. (CNW Group/Canadian Cancer Society (National Office))". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20130319_C5967_PHOTO_EN_24629.jpg

SOURCE: Canadian Cancer Society (National Office)

Sasha Anopina
Bilingual Communications Specialist
Canadian Cancer Society
416-934-5338
sasha.anopina@cancer.ca

(Source: CNW )
(Source: Quotemedia)

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