Science & Research

Quest for the cure

Manitoba is an important centre for cancer research, thanks in part to projects funded by the Manitoba Health Research Council and CancerCare Manitoba Foundation under a program that supports world-class graduate, doctoral and postdoctoral students

The MHRC-CCMB team, from left: Dr. Spencer Gibson, Dr. Shannon Healy, Dr. Sandrine Lafarge, Dilshad Khan, and Heather Champion.
The MHRC-CCMB team, from left: Dr. Spencer Gibson, Dr. Shannon Healy, Dr. Sandrine Lafarge, Dilshad Khan, and Heather Champion.

BY JOEL SCHLESINGER
Winnipeg Health Region
Wave, May / June 2012

The fight against cancer is a neverending series of battles on a global scale. And although recent studies suggest more people are winning their personal battles against this disease, it remains the No. 1 cause of death among Canadians, claiming the lives of 75,000 people last year alone.

As a result, researchers around the world are working to crack cancer's secrets in a bid to enhance treatments and perhaps come up with a cure.

Some of this important work is taking place right here in Manitoba, according to Dr. Spencer Gibson, Director of Research for CancerCare Manitoba and Manitoba Research Chair at the Department of Biochemistry and Medical Genetics at the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Medicine.

"It's research that will help us understand why cancer is a killer, why it keeps coming back, how we can develop better therapies to target cancer and not healthy cells, and how we can make existing therapies better," Gibson says of the work taking place in this province.

Four graduate and post-doctoral students at the University of Manitoba are playing an integral role in the ongoing effort to eradicate cancer.

Funded jointly by the Manitoba Health Research Council (MHRC) and CancerCare Manitoba Foundation through the MHRC Co-ordinated Trainee Competition, they are able to carry out research that may someday lead to new treatments and maybe even a cure.

Since 2008, the MHRC Co-ordinated Trainee Competition has provided essential funding to world-class graduate, doctoral and post-doctoral students to pursue groundbreaking research on cancer.

"The funding that we give here is to support the trainee in recognizing their expertise, allowing them to succeed," says Gibson. "It focuses on the trainees' success so that they can go on and have an impact on the understanding and treatment of cancer and then be future leaders in cancer research to the various areas that they go on to in the future."

This special report, sponsored by the Manitoba Health Research Council, highlights some of their work.

Unlocking cancer's secrets Unlocking cancer's secrets
For decades, scientists have known cancer is caused when a cell divides uncontrollably, invading new cells, attaching to organs, entering the bloodstream and spreading to the rest of the body.

Full story
Killing cancer Killing cancer
Can cancer be tricked into killing itself, or at least making itself more vulnerable to treatments such as chemotherapy?

Full story
Targeting the tumour Targeting the tumour
Radiation therapy is one of three most common treatments for cancer, along with chemotherapy and surgery.

Full story
Kicking cancer out of its home Kicking cancer out of its home
Why one person gets cancer, while another who lives the same lifestyle doesn't, has long been a focus of researchers.

Full story

Wave: May / June 2012

About Wave

Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.

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