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Target: The Big C Vice President Research, Office of the 2007

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November 2007 7K cy mDocket no.: 1203Version no: 2client : UBc ResearchDate: 2007 Oct 12Item: Frontier magazineSize: 8.5x11.75 inchesLogos: reproPhotos: hiresLine Screen: 150 lineFonts: DIN, A Garamond Pro, Berthhold Akzidenz Grotesk, Helvetica NeueProofed by:ROS/KB/SD All trapping is the responsibility of the printer/pre-press company outputting final film/plates.At tHe forefroNt of trANSlA tIoNAl reSeArCH, MArtIN GleA ve AND tHe ProSt A te CeNtre Are ACCelerA tING DISCovery IN CANCer reSeArCH wHIle BrINGING tHerAPeUtICS to   PA tIeNtS More qUICkly AND effICIeNtlyT_he year was 1966 and scientific discoveries in the lab were  reaching an unprecedented height ? from the first synthesis of insulin in China to the deciphering of the DNA code by an  MIT biochemist to the approval of the human use of ?the Pill?  by the Food and Drug Administration. It was also the year that  Canadian-born urologist Dr. Charles Huggins was recognized for his discovery that some cancer cells, like normal body cells, are dependent on hormonal signals to survive and grow and that by depriving cancer cells of the correct signals, the growth of the tumours could be slowed down, at least temporarily.T_his seminal find won Huggins the 1966 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine and revolutionized modern oncology by proving that some cancers could be controlled by purely chemical means. It also left a lasting legacy in Canadian prostate cancer research that prompted many Canadian urologists to further push research to new heights of discovery ? without leaving the country. Dr. Martin Gleave, UBC Vancouver Professor of Urologic Sciences and Director of the Prostate Centre at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH), counts himself as one of those urologists.?In Canada, we have a great network of uro-oncologists that really allows us to function as a team in various clinical trial networks,?  says Gleave. ?It also allows Canada to hit above its weight globally  in prostate cancer research.?T_hrough the Prostate Centre at VGH, Gleave, co-Directors  Dr. Larry Goldenberg, Dr. Paul Rennie and their team have helped position Vancouver (and UBC) as a major hub for prostate cancer research not only in Canada but also all over the world. Now in its seventh year of operation, the centre is internationally recognized  as one of the leading facilities in the research and treatment of prostate cancer.T_he centre?s primary focus is to understand the molecular mechanisms that underlie cancer progression and the development of treatment resistance. In order to discover new ways to inhibit the spread of the disease, Gleave and his research team investigate how cancer cells change when stressed with treatment and then study  the gene that produces that particular change to determine whether cancer cells need it for growth or survival.?When we try to go in and kill cancer cells, like any living Target: The Big CK cy mDocket no.: 1203Version no: 2client : UBc ResearchDate: 2007 Oct 12Item: Frontier magazineSize: 8.5x11.75 inchesLogos: reproPhotos: hiresLine Screen: 150 lineFonts: DIN, A Garamond Pro, Berthhold Akzidenz Grotesk, Helvetica NeueProofed by:ROS/KB/SD All trapping is the responsibility of the printer/pre-press company outputting final film/plates.November 2007 November 2007 K cy mDocket no.: 1203Version no: 2client : UBc ResearchDate: 2007 Oct 12Item: Frontier magazineSize: 8.5x11.75 inchesLogos: reproPhotos: hiresLine Screen: 150 lineFonts: DIN, A Garamond Pro, Berthhold Akzidenz Grotesk, Helvetica NeueProofed by:ROS/KB/SD All trapping is the responsibility of the printer/pre-press company outputting final film/plates.organism, they respond by wanting to survive. So cancer cells turn on genes that help them survive our systemic anti-cancer therapies,? says Gleave. ?T_hrough this, we?re interested in understanding  what genes these cancer cells are turning on for survival and then developing inhibitors to block those survival pathways.?T_he research has resulted in the successful characterization  of the role of several cancer survival genes such as bci-2, clusterin,  HSP 27 and IGF binding proteins. Although the centre does  not patent these genes, it patents the use of these genes through therapeutic inhibitors.One such inhibitor, OGX-011, is now the leading drug candidate for OncoGenex, the Vancouver-based biotech firm that Gleave founded in 2000 to patent intellectual property developed  at the centre. OGX-011, which targets and inhibits the survival  gene clusterin to enhance cancer cell death after chemotherapy, is currently in Phase Two clinical trials across North America and is poised to move onto registration Phase T_hree trials beginning in 2008. A second drug, OGX-427, which targets the survival gene HSP 27, has recently moved into its first in-man trials. In addition to his role as Director of the Prostate Centre, Gleave is Chief Scientific Officer of OncoGenex, which now has five patented products that have been out-licensed, three of which are currently moving through clinical development.T_he infrastructure at the Prostate Centre has helped to accelerate discovery and bring new therapeutics to patients more quickly and efficiently. It is this translational approach to research ? where discoveries in the lab are directly translated to therapeutic developments ? that has distinguished the centre from other  cancer research institutes at other universities. Gleave also  points to the multifaceted collaborations across disciplines and  the involvement of research hospitals, academic institutions and industry, like local biotechs, Angiotech, QLT, Kinexus and major pharmaceutical companies like Aventis, Eli Lily and AstraZeneca  in addition to IBM, that have helped shape the centre?s  noteworthy achievements.?Part of our success is that we function as a translational  cancer research program where we are intent on doing high- quality discovery research but that research is a means to an end,? says Gleave. ?We want to use the research to develop products  to improve the outcome of patients with prostate cancer and in  doing so function as a hybrid, between an academic centre and  an industry, to commercialize products and enhance Canada?s economic competitiveness in the emerging biotech centres  around the world.?Not only has the centre attracted national and international dollars into the province and provided a framework to discover, develop and out-license products to biotech firms like OncoGenex but it has also attracted key personnel with expertise in the industry. T_his level of expertise has helped BC grow the critical infrastructure necessary to be competitive in technology transfer at the academic level. T_he results speak for themselves: UBC is now ranked number eight in the world and number one in Canada in technology transfer due in large part to successes like the Prostate Centre  and OncoGenex.For patients currently suffering from cancer, the advantage  of having this type of centre locally is more direct. By having  the capacity to attract the best and brightest clinicians and researchers, patients benefit from gaining access to novel treatments that normally would have only been available at clinics elsewhere  in the world.For Gleave, it is this improvement in patient treatment that ultimately drives him and his colleagues towards further discovery: ?One of my dreams would be to take a discovery like we have with clusterin and HSP 27 and design and develop an inhibitor that then goes all the way to market and becomes something that prolongs life. T_hat?s the holy grail of translational research,? he says. ?When you?re dealing with advanced or recurrent cancer, people can no longer be helped by surgery and it?s too complicated to believe  there is only one magic bullet. So we have to come up with  multiple different target therapies to control the disease and delay progression, turn the cancer into a chronic disease that people  die with rather than of.?Dr. Martin Gleave is a UBC Professor of Urologic Sciences  and Director of the Prostate Centre at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH). T_he centre has received funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the Terry Fox Foundation, the National Cancer Institute of Canada (NCIC), the BC provincial government as well as numerous private funders.?wHeN yoU?re DeAlING wItH AD v ANCeD or reCUrreNt CANCer, we HA ve to CoMe UP wItH MUltIPle DIffereNt  t ArGet tHerAPIeS  to tUrN tHe CANCer INto A CHroNIC DISeASe tHA t PeoPle DIe wItH rA tHer tHAN of.?Photo> Brian Hawkes

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