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Pilot Project Network Teams Report Steady Progress in First Year of Working Together

By August 8, 2018August 13th, 2018No Comments

Fostering unprecedented collaborations, harmonizing complex research methods and creating the basic framework for a digital platform that allows patient data to be shared, stored and analyzed. These are just three of the many achievements that some of the nation’s top cancer researchers are crediting to an ambitious cancer centre network led by The Terry Fox Research Institute.

The Terry Fox Canadian Comprehensive Cancer Centres Network (TF4CN), a two-year pilot project that brings together investigators from Vancouver’s BC Cancer and Toronto’s Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, has reached these milestones in just over a year—making researchers hopeful about the potential benefit the network could have on patients across the nation.

“Over the past year we’ve been working closely with Dr. Pamela Ohashi’s lab in Toronto and have been able to harmonize how we manufacture T-cells for use in immunotherapy,” says Dr. Brad Nelson (BC Cancer), a world-famous cancer researcher who co-leads one of the four projects being piloted as part of the TF4CN. “While this may not seem like a very big deal it actually opens doors for fascinating new collaborations between the two teams that could have a real impact on patients.”

According to Dr. Nelson, using similar methods to create T-cells will allow investigators in both centres to share samples for use in research and make it possible for them to collaborate on clinical trials that reach a higher number of patients—something that was infeasible in the past.

“Our vision is that we will be able to do immunotherapy trials in the future at different centres throughout the TF4CN network and generate data that is comparing apples to apples from centre to centre,” says Dr. Nelson. “If we pull this off, Canada would be one of the only places in the world that is organized this way for immunotherapy research.”