As regional medical director of the BC Cancer Vancouver Island Centre, I am very eager and motivated to create and maintain a nurturing environment for everyone at this center who desires to engage in knowledge generation, and for those whose mission is to advance research in all its stages and forms.
I believe it is critically important that we maintain and grow the necessary infrastructure and the capacity to support every potential research project for the good of our patients and the benefit of future generations.
These pursuits range from laboratory to clinical research, and from improving day-today patient care to testing world-first treatment options that are revolutionizing the future of cancer care. An example of the latter is our effort to improve outcomes through a new treatment approach called Adoptive T Cell Therapy, specifically CAR-T Cell Therapy and Oncogene-Targeted T Cell Therapy.
This is a provincial program that is enabled through our Conconi Family Immunotherapy Lab at the Trev & Joyce Deeley Research Centre within the BC Cancer, Vancouver Island Centre.
CAR-T cells have shown very promising clinical success rate, with a 90 per cent response rate in otherwise incurable B cell leukemia.
At the Conconi Family Immunotherapy we are working to bring this treatment to Canada through a state-of-the-art “clean room”. This enables sterile manufacturing of clinical-grade T cells needed for patient trials, which are expected to begin within the next few years.
We are also developing a second approach that can be applied more widely. Through a clinical trial we are hoping to launch in the next few years, patients will be infused with different T cells, referred to as oncogene-targeted T cells which identity and target mutations that cause tumour growth.
This work being carried out by our team at the Deeley Research Centre, which houses 34 staff, including scientists, post-doc fellows, grad students and research assistants under the leadership of Dr. Brad Nelson.
Over the past five years, the team at the Deeley Research Centre has published 77 journal articles on their work to advance therapy for those facing this disease.
I am always inspired by patients who choose to participate in our research endeavors at the center. They do this often not for direct benefit to themselves, but to help future generations who could benefit from the research that is currently taking place.
It is particularly uplifting when you follow up with these patients and they are interested in knowing how other patients are doing and how the research is progressing since they became involved.
Next week, I’ll discuss how philanthropy vitally contributes to enhancing care for families facing cancer here on Vancouver Island.
Thank you for reading,