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November 30, 2010

I’d like to tell you a bit about an exciting research project being undertaken right now at the Centre for Lymphoid Cancer. It’s called the ANGELYC Project, which stands for Analysis of Genomes to Eliminate Lymphoid Cancers.

This is a comprehensive research study my Co-Director Dr. Randy Gascoyne and I are launching.

The goal of the ANGELYC Project is to sequence and analyze the genomes of all lymphoid cancers. We hope to uncover new treatment targets and develop more effective treatments that will ultimately give lymphoid cancer patients a better chance at long-term survival.

This project is, in part, only possible because of the BC Cancer Agency’s Genome Sciences Centre and its next-generation sequencing technology.  We are truly fortunate to have this facility — one of the top five sequencing centres in the world — embedded within the BC Cancer Agency.

When cancerous cells are sequenced, the intent is to find all the unique genetic mutations in the cells.  This shows us any common mutations between cell samples and provides us with specific targets for new treatments.

Not only will the ANGELYC Project be the first of its kind in the world, it may well change the course of global lymphoid cancer research.

Applications of results could potentially slow or even stop the acceleration of the disease and will likely provide answers for those 50 per cent of patients who currently do not respond to standard treatments. It could extend, if not save, the lives of all British Columbians diagnosed with lymphoma.

Work like this would not be possible without philanthropic support, and on October 28, I experienced first hand the power of the partnership between philanthropy and research at the BC Cancer Foundation’s Inspiration Gala.

BC Cancer Foundation's 2010 Inspiration Gala

BC Cancer Foundation’s 2010 Inspiration Gala

About 400 guests came to support the ANGELYC Project and before the night was over, these 400 guests donated $2.6 million to our project. One couple gave $1 million in a single bid!

The advantage of philanthropic funding is that it’s more flexible than external grant sources.  It can provide seed capital for discovery-based projects that are often hard to fund. Once the project is well established, we can leverage the initial funding many times over through national and international granting agencies and organizations.  The $2.6 million can be leveraged into over $10 million!

My entire team at the Centre for Lymphoid Cancer is extremely grateful to our partners at the BC Cancer Foundation and to all their donors for their unanimous vote of confidence in the Centre and for their generous support of the ANGELYC Project.