August 16, 2005

Judie Havers
Corporate Communications & Public Relations, LHSC
519-685-8500, ext. 58738

London Researchers Secure Major Funding for Breast Cancer Research

(LONDON, Ontario) - The Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance (CBCRA) today announced a significant award of $2.16M to London researchers.

Dr. Ann Chambers, a Senior Scientist at London Regional Cancer Program (LRCP), LHSC and Lawson Health Research Institute (Lawson), and Canada Research Chair in Oncology at The University of Western Ontario Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry (Schulich), is the Program Leader and Principal Investigator for the research project titled: Steps in breast cancer metastasis - experimental modeling and identification of targets for intervention. The term of the award is 5 years with a start date of July 01, 2005. The grant is one of only two awards made in Canada.

Metastasis is the spread of cells from a primary tumour to another site in the body, and the main cause of death for breast cancer patients. CBCRA's special grant competition for New Approaches to Metastatic Disease in Breast Cancer was created to encourage and support multidisciplinary teams who will use new technologies and/or innovative approaches to develop preclinical models to understand metastasis. CBCRA acknowledges the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation for their special contribution to this research priority.

"Most breast cancer deaths are due to metastases, not to the primary tumor," explains Dr. Chambers. "As someone whose research has been focused on metastasis for many years, I have been frustrated by the relatively limited emphasis that has been placed on research on this deadly aspect of cancer. I was delighted when the CBCRA requested applications specifically in this field. Our 9-member research team is honoured to have been selected to receive one of these multidisciplinary team awards, to allow us to focus on developing the research tools that are needed to better understand the metastatic process and, one day, to prevent deaths from metastasis."

The award will fund four component research projects led by scientists from LRCP, Lawson and Western's Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, as well as a core research facility to be used by all four projects. The teams will use videomicroscopy to visualize breast cancer cells as they spread via lymph nodes, study lymphatic metastasis and post-surgical therapy, develop tools to locate and analyze rare metastatic cells using flow and image cytometry, and model mammary tumour progression and growth in lymph nodes in 3D culture. The goal of these projects is to develop new research tools for use in understanding the steps that occur as cancer cells spread from a breast tumour to the lymph nodes and to other parts of the body, with the ultimate aim that this knowledge be used to prevent or better treat metastases.

Dr. Chambers' collaborators include Dr. Ian MacDonald (Schulich), Dr. Alison Allan (LRCP), and Dr. Alan Tuck (LHSC), as well as co-investigators Dr. Alan Groom (Schulich), Dr. Sharon Vantyghem (LRCP), Dr. David Rodenhiser (LRCP) and Mr. Mike Keeney (LHSC). The research team also includes Lay Member, Dr. Catherine Ebbs, Breast Cancer Survivor. Dr. Ebbs plays a unique role on the research team, by bringing the breast cancer patient's perspective to the research and helping to disseminate the research to the lay community.

"The CBCRA award represents a tremendous contribution towards research to advance our knowledge of the multiple processes involved in the spread of breast cancer," said Dr. Glenn Bauman, Chair of Oncology at Western's Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and Director of Research at LRCP. "Dr. Chambers and her team are internationally recognized experts in this area and the CBCRA award reaffirms the relevance and quality of research being conducted within the Cancer Research Laboratory Program of the London Regional Cancer Program/Lawson Health Research Institute and at The University of Western Ontario Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry."

Established in 1993, the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance is the primary granting agency for breast cancer research in Canada. To date, CBCRA has contributed $138 million to support 399 research grants.

As a unique collaboration of groups from the public, private and non-profit sectors, CBCRA is committed to reducing the incidence of breast cancer, increasing survival, and enhancing the lives of those affected by the disease.

CBCRA members include the Avon Flame Foundation, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, the Canadian Breast Cancer Network, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Health Canada and the National Cancer Institute of Canada.

London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) is one of Canada's largest acute-care teaching hospitals and is dedicated to excellence in patient care, teaching and research. LHSC has pioneered many national and international medical breakthroughs. Located in London, Ontario, LHSC encompasses three sites, South Street Hospital, University Hospital and Victoria Hospital; two family medical centres; and the London Regional Cancer Program. LHSC is the home of the Children's Hospital of Western Ontario and CSTAR (Canadian Surgical Technologies & Advanced Robotics). The research arm of LHSC is Lawson Health Research Institute, which is partnered with London's other teaching hospital, St. Joseph's Health Care, London. LHSC is affiliated with The University of Western Ontario Schulich School of Medicine & Dntistry. Physicians and staff at LHSC number close to 8,000 and together they provide care for more than 600,000 patients each year.