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Genome Prairie announces two new genomics projects to drive precision diagnostics research for the Prairie region

April 18, 2023

Genome Prairie, along with Genome Canada, today announced two new genomics research projects totalling more than $5.6M to develop diagnostic tools for enhancing diagnostics and treatments for ovarian cancer and Helicobacter Pylori.

The Helicobacter Pylori (Hp) project will develop an end-to-end metagenomics-based pipeline toward developing an effective diagnosis of Hp infections and identifying antimicrobial (antibiotic) resistance in patients to treat the disease. Approximately 13 million Canadians are infected with Hp, a leading cause of gastric ulcers and cancer.

The ovarian cancer project will develop a suite of genomics-based tools to more effectively identify patients with a genetic disposition for ovarian cancer. Early detection will mean significantly improved odds for effective treatment of ovarian cancer, which has a lower survival rate mainly because detection of the disease often occurs at an advanced stage.

Most research work for the Helicobacter pylori project will be carried out at the National Microbiology Laboratory and the Cadham Provincial Laboratory in Winnipeg. For the ovarian cancer project, research will be conducted at the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency and Saskatoon-based hospitals. Both projects are scheduled to begin their research work this summer and are scheduled to be completed by 2026.

The Hp and ovarian cancer projects are supported through Genome Canada’s Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP), which leverages world-leading expertise and diversified partnerships to accelerate the translation of genomic knowledge tools into broad economic and societal benefits. Each project was made possible via diverse partnerships representing provincial and federal levels of government support, as well as contributions from healthcare organizations and supportive foundations.

In addition to support from Genome Canada, the Hp project is supported by financial contributions from the National Microbiology Laboratory and the Cadham Provincial Laboratory. The ovarian cancer project has support from various organizations, including the University of Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency, the Saskatchewan Health Agency, Ovarian Cancer Canada and the Terry Fox Foundation.

Quotes:

“We are thrilled to announce these two new genomics projects, in particular, because each marks a new milestone in precision diagnostics to combat diseases that severely impact thousands of people each year. Along with the leadership by Genome Canada and ISED, we are delighted to see so many leading research organizations from the Prairie region involved in supporting these two projects. I believe each will take major steps towards improving health outcomes for the people of Canada and beyond.”

– Mike Cey, President and CEO, Genome Prairie

“Genomics is a key technology that is instrumental in responding to national and global challenges. Projects like the ones announced under the Genome Canada’s Genomics Applications Partnership Program are central to make sure the Canadian research system grow and remain at the forefront globally, leading to more cutting-edge genomics science that delivers real impacts for the health and economic growth of Canadians.”

– The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

“Enabling impact-focused research partnerships between academia, industry, public sector institutions other partners is vital to harnessing long-term growth, low-carbon productivity and a healthier future for Canadians. Genome Canada is proud to mark the 10th anniversary of the Genomics Application Partnership Program (GAPP) and invest in our 100th GAPP this year with the vital support of the Government of Canada.”

– Dr. Rob Annan, President and CEO, Genome Canada

Ovarian Cancer Project Quote:

“This project will use cutting-edge diagnostics for ovarian cancer patients to determine their tumour signature and, together with their physicians, determine the most suitable treatment option. Different types of ovarian cancers are resistant to certain chemotherapeutic agents, and knowing the tumour signature can help a patient avoid the use of drugs that are ineffective. This type of genomic testing will do two things – better identify patients that should be eligible for precision medicine and prevent the futile use of certain therapies in some patients, keeping them without side effects for longer.”

–  Dr. Mary Kinloch, Division Head of Anatomic Pathology, Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA).

Helicobacter pylori Project Quote:

Helicobacter pylori is a bacterial infection that causes peptic ulcers. Without proper diagnosis and treatment, Helicobacter pylori can cause serious gastric disease, including gastric cancer.  Our project will use innovative genomics and bioinformatics techniques to detect Helicobacter pylori infections and identify markers of antibiotic resistance. We hope the data we collect through our GAPP project will be used to guide appropriate antibiotic use, help patients get effective treatment, and monitor antibiotic resistance in Canada.”

–  Dr. David Alexander, Scientist, Cadham Provincial Laboratory

Quick Facts:

  • Helicobacter pylori (Hp) is the main cause of peptic ulcer disease and a major risk factor for gastric cancer. Around 13 million Canadians are infected with Hp, a bacterial pathogen.
  • Hp infections and related gastric cancers disproportionately affect Indigenous and new arrival to Canada populations.
  • The standard treatment for Hp is complex, requiring up to four different medications, and some types of Hp are now resistant to this treatment. Antimicrobial susceptibility testing can improve Hp treatment, but it is technically demanding and not routinely done in Canada.
  • Women with ovarian cancer have an overall survival rate of only six years, with the first of multiple recurrences happening between 12 and 18 months after detection. The low survival rates for are mainly because ovarian cancer commonly presents itself at an advanced stage and has biologic resistance to conventional therapy
  • Once ovarian cancer is detected, there is an urgent need to better identify precision treatment options for each patient, based on their unique tumor characteristics.

 

For more Information about these new projects, or this media release, please contact:

Tony Bassett
Director of Communications and Stakeholder Relations
Genome Prairie
Telephone/Text: (306) 881.0255
Email: tbassett@genomeprairie.ca

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