Novel Therapies and Biomarkers

"We are potentially over-treating men with prostate cancer. Our research indicates that we can focus on the aggressive treatments on those patients who need it and avoid the treatment for those patients who don't. There's an incredible opportunity to do this for other cancers as well."

- Dr. John Lewis
Associate professor, Department of Oncology
Frank and Carla Sojonky Chair in Prostate Cancer Research funded by the Alberta Cancer Foundation

The National Cancer Institute defines a biomarker as "a biological molecule found in blood, other body fluids, or tissues that is a sign of a normal or abnormal process, or of a condition or disease." Biomarkers, such as prostate specific antigen (PSA), can be used to detect a cancer earlier. Other biomarkers, like CA125, may be used to see how well the body responds to a treatment, and to determine if the cancer recurs. In addition, biomarkers can be used to direct treatment strategies for specific cancer subtypes by allowing doctors to predict the rate at which cancer may progress, determine relapse and estimate if the cancer may spread/metastasize through a patient's body. Biomarkers are thus the cornerstone of personalized medicine. Many of our scientists have research programs already exploring novel biomarkers that will allow a better understanding of the complexities that cancer presents.

Research projects to advance these areas are already underway, including:

  • Cancer genomics and biomarkers for breast cancer, prostate cancer and more
  • The design of novel compounds and conjugates for high selective targeting in treatment
  • Synthetic and medicinal chemistry of anticancer agents
  • Mathematical and statistical modeling of cancer data
  • Oncolytic viruses as novel cancer therapeutics