We will develop new drugs to block DNA repair, and new ways for those drugs to act only on cancer cells.aldrecon.ca
Our ultimate goal with all new treatment options is longer patient survival and a higher number of cured cancer patients.aldrecon.ca
Overview. The Alberta DNA Repair Consortium brings together a group of discovery, translation, and clinical researchers from the Universities of Alberta, Calgary, and Lethbridge with the aim of improving the effectiveness of cancer treatment by exploiting our understanding of how damaged DNA is repaired. Many cancer therapies, most notably radiation therapy and certain chemotherapeutic agents, destroy human cancers by damaging their DNA. A clearer understanding of the molecular mechanisms of DNA repair pathways and how they might be selectively inhibited in cancer cells offers a way to improve the effectiveness of cancer treatments that rely on DNA damage. Our first initiative is focused on improving survival in colorectal cancer patients.
The Health Problem. In 2015, an estimated 25,000 Canadians will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and approximately 9000 will die from the disease, accounting for 12% of all cancer deaths. Early diagnosis significantly improves outcome but many patients are diagnosed with late stage disease, which is considered incurable. Cancer treatment is based on mainly on surgery but patients often receive treatment (radiation and/or chemotherapy) prior to surgery to shrink the tumour as well as chemotherapy after surgery. For the group of patients with advanced disease, treatment relieves symptoms and maintains quality of life, but median survival is only 24-30 months after treatment. Even a small improvement in therapy in this very common cancer could transform many patient lives.
New Treatment Possibilities. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments are based mainly on practical experience, not on a thorough understanding of the biology of cancer cells. Many patients do not benefit from treatment because their tumours have strong DNA repair systems. The Alberta DNA Repair Consortium will investigate those DNA repair systems to increase the effectiveness of cancer treatments. We will develop new drugs to block DNA repair, and new ways for those drugs to act only on cancer cells. Personalized treatments for colorectal cancer may be possible because each tumour has its own signature DNA repair characteristics. We will identify signatures that predict good results from current treatments.
An Alberta DNA Repair Discovery Pipeline. Our team of researchers and cancer physicians has already developed some promising new targets and drugs for improving colorectal cancer treatments. We are building a ‘pipeline’ of new options to be tested first in the lab and then in patients. Our ultimate goal with all new treatment options is longer patient survival and a higher number of cured cancer patients.