Senior Project Leader, Deeley Research Centre, BC Cancer Agency Vancouver Island Centre

T-cell therapy is a game-changing area of cancer research that will have a very tangible impact on patients and their families in the near future, and this is what excites me the most about my work.

For a while these therapies appeared as if on the distant horizon– they involved years of planning, construction and research to get off the ground. Generous donor support to the BC Cancer Foundation was essential, enabling us to kick-start this process and maintain it through to completion.

Indeed, philanthropic support allowed us to build the clean room necessary to carry out these treatments, and without it this project never would have been able to start.

We were then able to leverage that donor investment to secure substantial research funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, enabling us to make these treatments a reality for patients today.

Now, we’re about to hit the ground running. These trials are expected to launch within the next year, and we’re absolutely thrilled to witness the tremendously positive impact of these treatments on patients and their families here in British Columbia.

Perhaps what’s most exciting is the impact these therapies will have on further research. The next target of ours using this form of treatment – using a patient’s own t-cells to attack cancers – will be on solid tumours, specifically for breast, lung and ovarian cancers.

This will enable us to provide highly targeted treatment with very little damage to surrounding tissues – something that is currently hard to achieve with standard forms of chemotherapy and radiation for these cancers.

So far, t-cell therapy has worked remarkably well for blood cancers – with up to a 90% response rate in certain diseases – and we’re excited to take this research to the next level of patient treatment.

BC Cancer Foundation donors will continue to play an integral part in this progress and our success at the BC Cancer Deeley Research Centre.

This week, hundreds of donors are coming together at the BC Cancer Foundation’s annual Jingle Mingle cocktail event – a celebration of our community’s commitment to progress. It’s also an opportunity to reflect on the future of cancer research and care, and what we need to achieve to help those facing this disease in our province.

To all of BC Cancer Foundation’s donors, I would like to thank you for your support of our research – past, present and future. Know that your generosity has and continues to make a tangible difference in the lives of patients in British Columbia.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog this past month. I look forward to seeing what else our community can accomplish together for families facing this disease. 

John