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The Cancer Research Society is pleased to witness the enthusiasm generated by UpCycle, its new funding program announced in March 2018. Unique in Canada, UpCycle aims to finance research on drug repurposing, a promising avenue that could lead to more rapid development of affordable treatments for many cancers.
Confirming the relevance of this initiative, more than sixty Canadian researchers sent their letters of intent to the selection panel. Of that number, thirteen researchers were invited to submit a grant application, and of these, ten applications were received.
Among applications, four are proposing to test all the FDA approved drugs that are available on the market to treat other health conditions, from an oncologic perspective. These projects will focus on cancer prevention and drug resistance, especially in cases of melanoma, pancreatic, ovarian and breast cancer. The six other projects propose to deepen research on drugs that are already identified as potential candidates for repurposing, to help counter drug resistance and treat leukemia, colorectal, breast and lung cancer.
The peer review panel, presided by Dr. Laura Kleiman, is composed of five international reviewers and experts on drug repurposing. The panel will meet on July 27 to select the first UpCycle grant recipients, basing the evaluation on scientific excellence, originality, research team quality and the potential for significant positive impact on treatments for cancer patients. The best projects will each receive a grant of up to $100,000.
The results of the competition will be announced in September.
Laura Kleiman is a scientist and patient advocate passionate about expanding treatment options for cancer patients. She is currently Scientific Research Director of the cBio Center at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) and Founder and Executive Director of the nonprofit Cures Within Reach for Cancer (CWR-4C). Laura has devoted her professional career to bringing together diverse groups of people, such as biologists, mathematicians, and clinicians, to solve challenging problems in cancer research. Prior to joining DFCI and founding CWR-4C, she worked at the nonprofit GlobalCures. Laura earned a PhD in computational and systems biology from MIT and was an American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
Laura leads CWR-4C’s work to develop promising cancer treatments ignored simply because they may not be profitable enough to justify their clinical trial costs. CWR-4C is collecting and organizing the clinical evidence supporting the cancer use of hundreds of available and inexpensive therapies previously FDA approved for non-cancer indications; and making this information available to doctors and the public. Following selection of the medicines with the best chance of extending and improving the lives of cancer patients, CWR-4C will fund the clinical trials necessary to incorporate the treatments into common medical practice worldwide.