Posts Tagged ‘Cancer Early Detection Funding’
Don Listwin Award For Outstanding Contribution to Cancer Early Detection 2021 goes to Rebecca Fitzgerald, MD, FMedSci
October 11, 2021
The Don Listwin Award for Outstanding Contribution to Cancer Early Detection recognizes a sustained contribution to, or singular achievement in, the cancer early detection field.
The 2021 Award goes to: Rebecca Fitzgerald MD FMedSci, MRC Cancer Unit, University of Cambridge and an internationally recognized pioneer for her exceptional research into the prevention and detection of oesophageal cancers.
This award was announced at the recent Early Detection of Cancer Conference – EDx21.
This award is given to recognize and thank Rebecca for the work she has done to develop, grow and establish the research needed to detect cancer early.
She is the Interim Director of the MRC Cancer Unit, Hutchison-MRC Research Centre, Professor of Cancer Prevention, and Clinician Scientist leading research in the Early Detection of Cancer for the University of Cambridge and the CRUK Alliance for Cancer Early Detection (ACED). Rebecca is known for the development of the Cytosponge technology, a sponge on a string that patients can swallow instead of undergoing an endoscopy. The Cytosponge collects cells from the oesophagus for staining, which can flag the presence of TFF3-positive cells indicative of Barrett’s oesophagus, a precursor to oesophageal cancer. Recently Rebecca and her team published work demonstrating that Cytosponge increases the identification of Barrett’s in individuals with frequent heart-burn symptoms by 10-fold compared to standard of care. The building of evidence for its clinical implementation for surveillance of high-risk individuals and in endoscopy sparing due to COVID-19 related pressures on health systems continues to make a vital impact to patients’ lives and is internationally recognized for its contribution towards breaking barriers in research.
Congratulations to Rebecca and we are pleased to have her within the early detection community.
The 2021 Gambhir Symposium (virtual) –celebrating ongoing work of visionary and pioneer Dr. Sanjiv Sam Gambhir
August 6, 2021
The 2021 Gambhir Symposium (virtual) held on July 19, 2021 included discussions and presentations celebrating the continuing work on paths forged by Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, MD, PhD, (1962-2020) in the fields in which he launched new directions:
Molecular Imaging, Cancer Early Detection, Precision Health.
Canary Foundation’s Ovarian Cancer Initiative: moving forward with matching specimen and imaging tissue in 3D
March 8, 2021
The Canary High Grade Serous Ovarian Cancer (HGSC) study is leveraging the expertise and resources of four institutions to study the microenvironmental factors that can lead fallopian tubes to develop this deadly type of ovarian cancer and thus provide a signal to alert for the presence of early disease. The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, the University of Pennsylvania, the Van Andel Institute in Michigan, and the University of California San Francisco have built the infrastructure to share fallopian tube specimens, experimental and clinical data, and analytical teams.
The small pilot study goals are to ask whether it is possible to compare women carrying the BRCA mutations (who are at higher risk of developing ovarian cancer) compared to those who do not carry the mutation and determine whether it is possible to find a measurable difference in the microenvironment.
Based on their first results, the team is selecting a larger set of specimens, matched for clinical factors and BRCA mutation status, and will conduct RNA, DNA and methylome sequencing. The group is also comparing competing platforms for imaging the tissue expression in 3D so that differences along the length of the tube can be evaluated and tested for correlations with the genetic data.
The International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection (ACED) joins researchers from the United States and the United Kingdom in a $70 million partnership. Founded in 2019, ACED is a partnership with the Canary Center at Stanford University, CRUK, the University of Cambridge, the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), University College London and the University of Manchester. The following is one study chosen for it’s innovative approach to early detection:
Stratifying Risk for Early Detection in Hereditary Breast and Ovarian cancer
Project Award, led by: Marc Tischkowitz, University of Cambridge; Allison Kurian, Canary Center at Stanford for Cancer Early Detection; and Gareth Evans, University of Manchester. Stanford Team: Allison Kurian, Alice Fan, James Ford
CanRisk is a cancer risk assessment tool which combines genetic, lifestyle, clinical and imaging data to calculate an individual risk estimate for women with high-risk mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2. The ability to provide personalized cancer risk estimates will identify women at particularly high risk. Currently, the ranges of cancer risk estimates for women with hereditary mutations in breast cancer genes are wide and not personalized, so all women are given the same figures. Creating a customized approach can solve this problem.
By implementing personalized risk estimates, early detection strategies can be tailored for the individual, therefore identifying those at the highest risk. Once feasibility is assessed, women undergoing predictive testing for BRCA1, BRCA2, PALB2, ATM or CHEK2 in US and UK genetics centers will be randomized to conventional vs personalized risk estimate based on genetic/lifestyle/hormonal modifiers.
October 7, 2020
The Ovarian team has used these past months to hone and polish the infrastructure for the High Grade Serous Ovarian Cancer Initiative and to ensure that high quality molecular data can be generated from the samples. This includes both the pilot project that focuses on changes in the micro-environment, and the retrospective study that looks back at tissue.
Focus of the project
Our focus is to define the role of the fallopian tube micro-environment in the development of high grade serous ovarian cancer (fallopian tube being the most common ovarian cancer), with the ultimate objective to find targets for prevention and markers of early disease onset for early detection.
In order to develop a robust and innovative research plan, we invited a multidisciplinary team of roughly 25 world class ovarian cancer researchers from across the US and Canada to an initial two day planning meeting in March 2019 in Los Gatos, California. The meeting was highly successful. The number of promising ideas exceeded our available funding level. Over the ensuing months the Executive Committee worked to refine and finalize our research proposal and also put in place the necessary infrastructure to conduct our studies.
What problem is the team trying to solve? Our overall plan includes a series of innovate pilot studies specifically designed to demonstrate the power of our team and generate preliminary data that can be leveraged to compete for large grants by the end of a two year period. The research will be performed in two phases: first, a retrospective phase that involves analysis of previously collected, banked fallopian tube samples with associated clinical information, and second, a prospective study, that includes newly collected samples, each with the goal of identifying what changes in the molecular landscape signal cancer.
Our progress March – Summer 2020. During these past months, the team has finalized the infrastructure for the pilot program and has worked to ensure that the expected high quality molecular data from our samples can be achieved. The process for sample sharing has been completed. Additionally, reviews, discussions, and decisions have been held to work out a draft of the high-quality protocol necessary for all team members to follow. 6 potential sites have been identified. We are testing our data management processes. This includes a portal for sharing and annotating data among multiple investigators and analysts. Canary Foundation has experience in this field.
Next steps: the in-person clinical aspect of the pilot will resume when each of the participating sites are reopened. When further steps in reopening allow, clinical sites will be responsible for providing patient samples and annotated clinical and pathologic data in a timely and cost-effective way. Each site includes a collaborative PI who has a robust system in place for conducting translational research studies, banking samples and linking clinical information.
Additionally, steps are being taken to identify and put in place a central project manager. An interim plan is in place utilizing resources at the University of Pennsylvania.
Clinical data and sample coordination center: The University of Pennsylvania leader is Michael Feldman. We are working with the team at UPenn to write sample protocols and requirements and to finalize the overall collaboration agreement that will be signed by all institutions. The coordinating center will receive samples from clinical sites, perform quality control, and prepare and ship samples to molecular profiling sites. The center will also maintain the clinical database of participants linked to their sample information. The clinical data will be linked later to the molecular data for each of the samples and participants.
Clinical teams: when further steps in reopening allow, clinical sites will be responsible for providing patient samples and annotated clinical and pathologic data in a timely and cost-effective way.
Molecular profiling sites: Molecular analyses will include bulk RNA and DNA sequencing, global methylome profiling, proteomics with spatial profiling, single cell analyses using the Nanostring DSP platforms.
Data management and analysis center: We have multiple types of data that need to be securely stored and annotated. We are using a similar structure to that used by the large NIH-funded effort, TCGA. Raw data will be hosted in the data center managed by Adam Olshen at UCSF. We will run data analysis pipelines and upload processed data into a program that will function as a portal for sharing and annotating data among multiple investigators and analysts. Canary Foundation has experience in this field.
Shaping bioinformatics. Our leadership and analysis team leaders are enthusiastic about working together using Synapse and the Sage engineers. The associated infrastructure and analysis plan from our bioinformaticians Adam Olshen (UCSF) and
Hui Shen (Van Andel) has been reviewed and approved by the group.
Checking our system.
- Testing of infrastructure and logistics with a small set of samples will include:
- Assessing technical issues
- Management of resources
- Rapid course correction procedures
- Generating first data set
- Send samples through the pipeline (10 BRCA mutation carriers)
- Check quality control measures on data set
Working as a team. Part of the strategy is to demonstrate our ability to work together and generate data so that we are able to apply for additional support from external agencies (e.g. government or foundations). The team is actively making connections to seek out the best funding opportunities as part of our future plan, and the breadth of expertise in the team and their ability to work well together go a long way in securing future funding.
Remembering Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, MD, PhD, Stanford University Radiology Chair, Director of the Canary Center at Stanford for Cancer Early Detection
August 4, 2020
Sam’s image: forever in our hearts.
November 23, 1962 – July 18, 2020
“The body is a mystery.” This is something you don’t expect to hear from a distinguished worldwide leading expert in radiology, who developed cutting edge imaging tests to spot disease early inside the body using new and repurposed technologies in highly innovative ways. You would think such a person would tout how much we do know. And yet, this is exactly what we would hear from our good friend and guide Sanjiv Sam Gambhir. He believed that the reason cancer seemed to take so many different characteristics in each individual person was because we know so little about the body. It was times like this you would be moved by just how humble Sam was. Add to that just how important Sam has been to Canary Foundation’s mission, and you understand why we will miss him as a beloved partner and visionary for cancer early detection.
We met Sam during the first year Don Listwin founded Canary Foundation in 2004. Don had lost his mother several years before to misdiagnosed ovarian cancer and had decided to use his time and resources to try to impact the common problem of misdiagnosis. Don and cancer research Nobel Laureate Lee Hartwell had earlier conversations about cancer being an engineering problem, where answers were out there but not being brought together to sensible resolution. Canary Foundation went on to develop multi-institutional, multi-disciplined teams providing them with start-up funds to work together towards common goals. They then gather enough results to attract further funding from larger grantors and the government.
Sam filled a vital role in the “workflow” as an imaging expert, and much more. He helped solidify our mission to develop tests to curb cancer deaths by finding tumors early, then isolating their location through imaging, followed by removal or targeted treatment. He quickly became the leader of the science teams using his expert skills in convening the lead researchers in the field.
What was it about Sam that made his complex science and vision understandable? Sam was relaxed as he described a full and brilliant universe of information, knowing exactly what metaphors to use to get his ideas across. For instance, Sam eagerly described his work in imaging as using “molecular spies” that could sleuth out cancer tumors, then send back a signal that greatly enhanced a physician’s ability to “spot” the cancer in the imaging.
Sam laughed easily and liked to poke good humored fun at his colleagues. He was mild mannered and didn’t jockey for the spotlight as one with his level of mastery might. He liked pop music and was genuinely interested in what you had to say. While none of this is written in leadership training books, it all worked well in moving the science forward.
In 2008, Canary Foundation and Stanford University signed partnership papers that sealed the deal on an agreement where both institutions would bring resources to create the Canary Center at Stanford for Cancer Early Detection. Sam led Stanford and kept his eye on the potential that would become the first worldwide center focused on cancer early detection. The Canary Center opened doors in 2009 and would grow to attract world-class researchers. We have accomplished much with Sam at our side. Canary Foundation has since mentored those working on opening international centers at Cambridge United Kingdom and the University of Calgary, Canada. Our annual symposium, the first of its kind that attracted young and seasoned researchers to a collaborative forum, has become, with Sam’s help, a prestigious multi-institutional event now organized by national and global partners.
Sam’s big strategy, like Canary Foundation’s, has always been to mentor both new and seasoned scientists. His lab and the Canary Center have been a dynamic place of productivity, exchange, energy and solution-based translational research. The seeds of his work will continue to grow and flourish by those he has taught and inspired.
Sam has been an extraordinary partner. “It is amazing what you can accomplish through collaboration,” Sam said just last September at the Early Detection of Cancer Conference. We wholeheartedly agree.
All of this is to say, Sam has been a good friend to Canary Foundation and a visionary of a bright future for helping those with a cancer diagnosis.
The world will not be the same without him.
Canary’s new: High Grade Serous Ovarian Cancer Initiative. HGSOC is the most common and lethal form of ovarian cancer.
February 4, 2020
Ovarian cancer remains the most lethal gynecologic malignancy in the United States. In 2018, over 22,000 new cases were diagnosed and 14,000 women lost their lives to the disease.
Ovarian cancer is made up of distinct subtypes. High grade serous ovarian carcinoma is 70% of cases, and is the most lethal subtype accounting for over 60% of ovarian cancer deaths.
People who have inherited mutations in BRCA genes are at higher risk for certain types of cancer, including HGSOC. In looking very carefully at the fallopian tubes removed from BRCA mutation carriers, the discovery was made that the fallopian tube was a site of origin for HGSOC – not the ovary itself, but the fallopian tube. This understanding over the past 15 years represents a paradigm shift in the origin of the HGSOC and opportunity for us to better understand how the cancer develops and design better strategies for early detection and prevention.
80% of HGSOC are diagnosed at a late stage!
We want to eliminate deaths from HGSOC by early detection and prevention.
There are currently no effective methods for early detection for ovarian cancer. Substantial progress has been made in identifying the putative precursor lesions for ovarian cancers.
Our focus is to define the role of the fallopian tube microenvironment in the development of high grade serous ovarian cancer, with the ultimate objective to find targets for prevention and markers of early disease onset for early detection. We are tackling the problem from multiple directions to ensure the greatest probability of success.
It is unclear which precursor lesions are likely to progress and/or be associated with invasive disease. A critical knowledge gap is how the various constituents of the fallopian tube microenvironment impact tumor development or progression.
Achieving our goals requires a multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary effort. The team we assembled is made up of gynecologic oncologists, molecular biologists, epidemiologists, pathologists and bioinformaticians. The team is world class and has the requisite expertise to capitalize on complementary molecular profiling. Our research plan leverages powerful, broad-based discovery approaches to tackle this difficult challenge of early detection.
Dr. Heidi Aumen explains more:
January 29, 2013
Lawrence Viariseo survived a fall off of a tall cliff, and fought a brave battle with cancer before his passing in late January. He raised funds for the Canary Challenge in 2012. His service is being held February 9, 2013 in Palo Alto, California.
Mr. Viariseo asked for friends or family members to donate to the Canary Challenge in lieu of flowers.
His niece Megan Cox describes him this way, “As you may remember, my uncle was a paraplegic who had beat stage 4 bladder cancer once before. The doctors at Stanford he felt had saved his life. It meant the world to him to be entering into the challenge in 2012 to give back to those doctors.”
CLICK HERE to make a donation to honor his memory. Please write a personal note if you would like.
Here is a lovely article that ran last year regarding his story, and his commitment to the Canary Challenge.