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Michel L. Tremblay and collaborators secure millions in funding through Genome Canada’s Genomics Application Partnership Program

A project led by Michel L. Tremblay, Ph.D., principal investigator at the Rosalind and Morris Goodman Cancer Institute (GCI), secured major funding from Genome Canada’s Genomics Applications Partnership Program (GAPP). The project, entitled ‘Establishing therapeutic cord blood-derived NK cells for hard-to-treat cancers through omics based and pharmacological activators’ is co-led by McGill University’s David Langlais, Ph.D., and conducted in partnership with Kanyr Pharma Inc. and Dr. Pierre Laneuville, M.D., and Linda Peltier, Ph.D., from the McGill University Health Centre.

Cancer immunotherapy has emerged as a game changer in cancer treatment by using a patient’s immune system to destroy cancer cells. Current immunotherapies, though successful, have limitations including reduced efficiency in certain cancers and high toxicity. This funded project aims to improve immunotherapy options through a promising but understudied population of cancer-killing immune cells called Natural Killer (NK) cells. The team has optimized the isolation, amplification, and storage of NK cells and identified a drug that activates the cells against tumors. They  have also leveraged genetic tools to identify specific NK cells which are highly effective at killing cancer.

The project aims to create a bank of effective NK cells that can be pharmacologically activated. A clinical trial will assess the efficacy of this treatment and the ease of shipping NK cells to other hospitals for use. Optimizing shipping and use of NK cell treatments will expand their reach, save costs for health agencies, and reduce barriers to receiving cancer care.

The project combines Michel L.Tremblay’s protein-tyrosine-phosphatase inhibitor and Natural Killer cell signaling lab with David Langlais’ genomic and epigenomic lab and Dr. Laneuville’s cell therapeutic lab and human cord blood bank.

Genome Canada invests in large-scale genomic research for the benefit of Canadians. The highly competitive Genomics Applications Partnership Program funds innovative research and development projects. Learn more about this research and other funded projects at the full Genome Canada press release.

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