July 14, 2020News

$3M for new breast cancer treatment research

The pandemic has highlighted the importance of supporting scientific research in order to allow investigators to find real solutions to deal with public health issues such as COVID-19 or cancer. In this context, the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation (QBCF) and IRICoR have joined forces to fund research work involving breast cancer, a cancer that affects a large and vulnerable population. Today they proudly announce the four recipients of their joint LeadAction | Breast Cancer du Sein Competition, launched last February across Canada. These Quebec investigators will benefit from a total amount of 3 million dollars over three years, with $1.5M coming from IRICoR and $1.5M from the QBCF.

This substantial support will enable recipients to accelerate their innovative breast cancer research work in order to offer more therapeutic options to those affected. The projects selected target two major breast cancer issues:

  1. Understanding why certain types of breast cancer are treatment-resistant and thus fight these resistance mechanisms with new therapies.
  2. Developing new treatments for aggressive types of breast cancer, such as triple-negative and HER2-dependent.

The LeadAction | Breast Cancer du Sein Competition is unique and innovative! It is translated by the convergence of three vital scientific and social innovation components, namely science, industry and the patient community. Therefore, by jointly launching this call, IRICoR and the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation have met the glaring needs of the people affected by breast cancer, by supporting large-scale projects that will result in developing new promising therapies.

Jida El Hajjar, Vice-President of Investment and Health Promotion at the QBCF.

Leading-edge breast cancer research must effectively translate into benefits to patients. The LeadAction | Breast Cancer du Sein Competition represents an exceptional opportunity to support creative projects that will ensure the development of novel therapeutic solutions for those suffering from breast cancer. This Competition allows us to seize the opportunity of combining our expertise in transforming research into therapeutic innovations with the extensive knowledge of the Foundation with respect to the needs of breast cancer patients. IRICoR is excited about the outstanding quality of the projects submitted as part of the LeadAction | Breast Cancer du sein Competition launched across Canada.

Nadine Beauger, Chief Executive Officer of IRICoR.

Recipients of the LeadAction | Breast Cancer du Sein Competition

Following a competitive process and a thorough assessment of applications from Quebec and the rest of Canada by an independent international peer committee, four projects were selected:

1. Blocking the addictions of cancerous tumors in order to destroy them

Rationally designed approaches to target mRNA translation in eradicating poor outcome breast cancers [Team headed by Jerry Pelletier, Principal Investigator at the Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Research Centre, McGill University] While cancer cells depend on the translation of mRNA to produce the proteins required for their aggressive nature, no molecule has yet been developed to block that process in breast cancer. The team headed by Jerry Pelletier seeks to remedy that situation by developing a molecule belonging to a whole new class of anti-cancer agent that can target and block that addiction.

2. Countering resistance to treatments

Development of orally bioavailable antiestrogens optimized for induction of estrogen receptor post-translational modifications by SUMOylation [Team headed by Sylvie Mader, Principal Investigator at the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC) of the Université de Montréal 30 to 50% of patients affected by hormone-dependent (ER+) breast cancer develop resistance to therapies targeting the estrogen receptor. These experts have already discovered how one of the resistance mechanisms functions, namely the SUMOylation of the estrogen receptor. They are now working on developing new molecules to foil it and better treat those affected by hormone-dependent metastatic breast cancer.

3. Demystifying the role of a protein responsible for the spread of triple-negative breast cancer

Development of small-molecule inhibitors of Ran GTPase as anti-cancer agents [Team headed by Anne-Marie Mes-Masson, Principal Investigator at the CHUM Research Centre]

Breast cancer is much more difficult to treat at the metastatic stage. In many cases, the protein Ran is associated with the spread of the disease to the other healthy tissues. The two investigators are currently testing molecules to curb the protein Ran for the purpose of slowing down or stopping the progression of breast cancer.

4. Developing a new molecule comparable to vitamin D to fight triple-negative breast cancer

Bifunctional vitamin D analogues as novel therapeutics against triple-negative breast cancer [Team headed by John White, Chair, Department of Physiology at McGill University] This team of researchers developed a new class of molecules as therapeutic agents against triple-negative breast cancer. They are vitamin D analogues. Their distinctive feature: they combine 2 active functions against cancer, namely HDAC inhibitors and the active form of vitamin D.

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