April 23, 2012 - Dr. Tom Hudson, President and Scientific Director of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR), today announced new funds to further enhance imaging research in Ontario and to develop improved imaging tools for more personalized diagnosis and treatment of cancer patients worldwide.
"Ontario is a world leader in imaging research and OICR is proud to continue supporting the development of state-of-the-art imaging technologies that will advance personalized medicine," said Dr. Hudson. "This funding will help to keep Ontario on the cutting edge of imaging research worldwide and ensure that this research is quickly and efficiently delivered to patients."
OICR is investing a total of $18.3 million over the next four years into imaging research in Ontario through two OICR initiatives: The Imaging Translation Platform and Smarter Imaging Program. The objectives of both initiatives align with OICR's larger strategic goals to accelerate translational research and to facilitate the adoption of personalized medicine. Projects funded within the program provide potential solutions to problems that could benefit cancer patients within the next five years, including the over-diagnosis of prostate cancer, over-aggressive treatment of early breast cancer and high fatality rates associated with pancreatic cancer.
The Imaging Translation Platform focuses on the development of new tools to help the introduction and testing of new imaging systems designed to diagnose and treat specific types of cancer earlier. The Platform is building an environment to foster innovation in cancer imaging and to ensure that patients benefit from the advances in technology as soon as possible.
The Smarter Imaging Program focuses on developing new imaging tools that can provide improved diagnosis of specific cancers and guide the choice of therapy, allowing for a greater degree of personalization in diagnosis and treatment. Types of cancer targeted include breast, prostate, pancreas and liver.
Both OICR initiatives are co-led by Dr. Aaron Fenster and Dr. Martin Yaffe. Dr. Fenster is based at Robarts Research Institute in London, Ontario and Dr. Yaffe is based at Sunnybrook Research Institute in Toronto.
Smarter Imaging Program - Prostate
Principal Investigators: Dr. Aaron Fenster, Dr. Glenn Bauman
Despite a great deal of progress in diagnosis and treatment, prostate cancer remains the third most common cause of cancer death in Canadian men. Current screening tools such as PSA tests do not provide an adequate characterization of the aggressiveness of the cancer and may result in overtreatment. Drs. Aaron Fenster and Glenn Bauman are leading an innovative project called SPIRIT (Smarter Prostate Imaging and Interventions) intended to reduce over-diagnosis of prostate cancer and reduce the morbidity of treatment. In its first year, the program will develop a suite of emerging imaging techniques to better distinguish aggressive vs. indolent cancer. It will then validate these techniques and test the most promising in prospective clinical trials, with a goal of developing new imaging approaches that have the potential to be rapidly and safely introduced in the clinic.