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B.C. Cancer scientists publish critical insights into cancer drug resistance

April 14, 2020

Found in News

VANCOUVER, B.C. –  A paper published April 13th in Nature Cancer by researchers at Canada’s Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre (GSC) at BC Cancer reveals DNA evidence of drug resistance and cancer progression as a result of therapies.

The paper is a comprehensive analysis of 570 advanced cancer patients, revealing the genetic changes that occur following chemotherapy, providing scientists and clinicians with valuable insight into advanced cancers and drug resistance. This study is part of the world-leading Personalized Onco-Genomics (POG) program and is available to view online.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, cancer care and the pursuit of advancing cancer research remains an important part of the work done at BC Cancer. 

“This study is significant because it presents the most intensively analyzed cohort in B.C. of heavily-treated cancers, and tries to relate these data to cancer treatment, both duration and type,” said Dr. Marco Marra, Director of Canada’s Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre (GSC) at BC Cancer and lead researcher of the study.​

Important findings include:

  • The paper is a pan-cancer analysis of advanced patient tumours with novel findings, critical for developing treatment strategies for patients with advanced disease.
  • It reveals several genetic changes that occur within tumours following treatment with chemotherapy, some of which lead to an increased number of DNA mutations, drug resistance and cancer progression.
  • The study also uncovers genetic alterations that influence how tumours interact with the immune system, our body’s natural defense mechanism against cancer.
  • These findings provide predictive power for determining which patients may benefit from specific types of cancer therapies while also providing critical insight into the biology of advanced stage cancers.

To date, the POG program has enrolled more than 1,000 patients and has influenced treatment planning and improved the quality of life for hundreds of individual cancer patients in B.C.  It has demonstrated the immense potential of genome analysis for personalized cancer treatment planning.

“The POG program has led the way for this country to imagine working on pre-treated and resistant cancers in this particular way and to establish a network of cancer centres for data sharing on uniformly collected datasets,” said Dr. Marra. “It has started something that goes beyond our own scientific discoveries. It has started a revolution.” 

BC Cancer Foundation donors are primary funders of the GSC and POG program.

“Our generous community of donors established this world-leading program, and continues to underpin innovative work that has truly life-changing results,” says Sarah Roth, president and CEO, BC Cancer Foundation

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For media inquiries, please contact:

Hayley Judge
Senior Marketing & Communications Specialist
BC Cancer Foundation