To effectively battle cancer, we need an arsenal of research discoveries, targeted strategies, and a united force of experts collaborating to revolutionize cancer care. That’s where the Cancer Research Institute of Northern Alberta (CRINA) comes in.

CRINA was formed in 2014 as a resource to facilitate connections between talented cancer researchers across the University of Alberta. One of the unique features of the institute is the diversity in expertise amongst members. In addition to strong membership from the Departments of Oncology and Medicine, CRINA members are also found in the Departments of Chemistry, Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, Computing Science, Pharmacology and more.

The institute seeks to forge collaborations and provide financial support to help accelerate discoveries in cancer diagnosis, treatment and prevention. 

There’s only one cure for cancer — research.

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 How Your Donations Are Used

CRINA is driving innovation and collaboration in cancer research, and our members would not be able to make such significant advances without the generosity of donors. Philanthropic support helps bring discoveries to the clinic and to patients faster than ever before.

Supporting Researchers
One of the primary ways we use donations to achieve the biggest possible impact is by supporting researchers through flexible funding. Flexible funding is awarded to researchers on the brink of an exciting discovery who would have to pause their research pursuits without additional funding for materials or critical staff. CRINA has awarded three researchers flexible funding thus far, and each researcher has soon after managed to obtain a federal research grant of $700,000+, based on the $40,000 initial investment. This type of funding is not only critical, it is also a phenomenal way to leverage donation dollars.
Supporting Students
CRINA is also passionate about supporting students. Through donations, as well as through partnerships with organizations like the Alberta Cancer Foundation, Kids with Cancer Society, and Roses of Hope Foundation, we have set up dozens of studentships over the years that offer support to students at all levels in their studies, from undergraduate students to doctoral students.

A scientist looking into a microscope.

An increasing number of researchers are engaging in collaborative, translational research (from bench to bedside) that is changing the ways we understand and treat cancer.

CRINA Members Making Impactful Discoveries

A New Way to See Cancer
Radiation therapy is a common method of treating cancer. Current radiotherapy machines use X-ray or CT-based imaging to identify the tumor prior to treatment. A team, led by CRINA members Gino Fallone and Brad Murray, is working on a better way to distinguish tumors from the soft tissue around them in real time using Magnetic Resonance (MR) – the Linac-MR system. The system has the unique ability to continuously adjust the treatment beam to keep it on target as a tumor moves during the radiation process, such as when a patient breathes, providing more precise treatment of the tumor and saving healthy tissue from destruction. The technology is currently in clinical trials, and the creation of the initial Linac-MR prototype was made possible by the generous contributions of donors. Learn more here.
A New Drug That Selectively Targets Cells

Based on research into newly discovered cancer biology, CRINA member Luc Berthiaume is developing the drug PCLX-001 that shuts down the abnormal chemical signaling in many common cancers and triggers those cells to die, but manages to spare the healthy cells. The first stages of the research project were made possible by donors to the World’s Longest Baseball Game. Cancers that could potentially be treated by the drug include non-Hodgkin lymphomas, leukemias and other blood cancers. It may also have positive results in breast, lung, bladder and pancreatic cancers. The drug is in pre-clinical (animal) testing. Learn more here.  

A Link Between Nutrition And Cancer

After seeing some promising results in mouse models, CRINA member Catherine Field began combining omega 3 mixtures with cancer drugs to see if the omega 3’s had any impact. Field and her team found that one of the omega 3 fatty acids, DHA, increased the effectiveness of doxorubicin, a drug used in breast cancer treatment. Field and her team brought the discovery to the clinical trial stage and are beginning to enroll patients. Learn more here.

A Transformational Technology for Cancer Surgery

CRINA member Roger Zemp discovered a photoacoustic imaging technique that can provide single cell resolution real time images of living tissue. Two low-powered lasers are used in conjunction – one to trigger vibrations in molecules, and one to detect the vibrations. The technique is so sensitive that it is able to show individual red blood cells moving through capillaries in real-time. This technology allows scientists to study tumors growing in real time and could also provide surgeons with noncontact intra-operative assessment of surgical margins. The technology has many potential clinical and research laboratory applications. Clinical evaluation studies are underway.

A Less Invasive Test for Prostate Cancer

CRINA member John Lewis (also the Frank & Carla Sojonky Chair in Prostate Cancer Research) and his team have developed a blood test that could make a significant impact in prostate cancer diagnosis. ClarityDx Prostate combines a highly sensitive vesicle detection platform with advanced machine learning algorithms. A validation study in 2,800 males is currently being conducted in Alberta. Learn more here.