Toronto, ON – Researchers at the University of Toronto have developed a process that dramatically cuts the amount of time it takes to create new cancer treatments. Using a new breakthrough technology, their study, published today in Nature Medicine, identified a new potential target for the treatment of a class of pancreatic cancer, and unveiled a new treatment option that exploits genetic faults to destroy cancer cells. Associate Professor Stephane Angers and PhD student Zachary Steinhart from the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, along with Drs. Jason Moffat and Sachdev Sidhu from the Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research, the Department of Molecular Genetics, and the Centre for the Commercialization of Antibodies and Biologics, made this discovery using the cutting-edge CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology. Using this revolutionary tool, the team of researchers probed the function of every single gene expressed by pancreatic cancer cells to determine that one of the receptors (Frizzled-5) is essential for the growth of mutant pancreatic cancer cells. Normally, the signaling pathways activated by Frizzled-5 tell cells when to divide, what types of cells to become, and when they should die. When mutated or deregulated, however, they can initiate tumour growth. Having identified the key role that the Frizzled-5 receptor plays in promoting pancreatic cancer growth, the team rapidly developed an antibody drug to inhibit the growth of these cells. The study showed that the antibody proved highly effective in killing the cancer cells in patient-derived samples and shrank tumours in mice without damaging the surrounding healthy cells. Leveraging the Donnelly Centre’s state-of-the-art platform for custom antibody design, the team was able to create a targeted antibody in months – a fraction of the time it would normally take to develop a safe and effective treatment for a specific cancer. As part of this study, the team also explored the role of this receptor in colorectal cancer, a form of cancer that shares common features with pancreatic cancer. The results of this study indicate that Frizzled-5 may be a factor across multiple cancer types, broadening the potential use of anti-Frizzled-5 antibodies as a targeted cancer therapy. “Ultimately, this study revealed genetic vulnerabilities in pancreatic cancer cells that could be exploited through the development of new targeted antibodies to inhibit tumor growth,” noted Dr. Angers of the Centre for Pharmaceutical Oncology. “By targeting the exact signaling circuit activated in these tumors, these rapidly developed antibodies have shown considerable promise as a cancer treatment. Moreover, the state-of-the-art antibody development platform developed at U of T is a transformational leap forward in our ability to rapidly create exciting new treatments to combat various cancers.” - 30 - For more information about this exciting new discovery, please contact: Jef Ekins Manager, Marketing & Communications Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto 416-946-7036 j.ekins@utoronto.ca Jovana Drinjakovic Writer at the Donnelly Centre University of Toronto O: 416.946.8253 C: 416.543.7820 jovana.drinjakovic@gmail.com

Latest Media Releases

Below is a selection of recent press releases. For all the latest news please visit www.utoronto.ca/news

December 11, 2017

Ontario Should Revise Discriminatory Policy Against Refugee Drivers

Toronto, ON – Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation should revise its policy and allow experienced drivers from war-torn countries to skip the one-year waiting period before their final driving tests - an exemption available to other newcomers in Ontario as well as refugees in other provinces, the International Human Rights Program at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law (IHRP) said today. Under the current policy, the Government of Ontario is discriminating against refugees from Syria and other conflict zones by effectively…

December 6, 2017

Team of Rotman Evening MBA Students Advances to Regional Finals for the Hult Prize

Toronto, ON – A team of students from the Evening MBA program at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management have won the UofT quarterfinal qualifying round to advance to the regional finals of the Hult Prize, the world’s largest student competition for social entrepreneurs. Purifire, consisting of Daniel Weng, Andrea Lo, Nirusan Rajakulendran, and Michael Bosompra, all from the Rotman MBA Class of 2020, will advance to the regional finals to be held in March 2018. The goal…

November 21, 2017

New Financial Innovation Hub Established at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management

Toronto, ON – A new partnership has been launched at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management to promote and develop initiatives for students and faculty in the area of financial innovation across all of the school’s programs. The Rotman Financial Innovation Hub in Advanced Analytics (Rotman FinHub) will create new classes and learning opportunities for students in financial innovation including machine learning and blockchain in the school’s MBA, Master of Finance, and Master of Financial Risk Management programs…

November 20, 2017

Rotman MBAS Win International Private Equity Competition

Toronto, ON – For the second week in a row a team of Full Time MBA students from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management have won a prestigious international competition. On Saturday, the Rotman students won the Rotterdam School of Management Private Equity Competition in Amsterdam defeating teams from INSEAD, IESE and Georgetown University in the final round. This year, the case involved candidates in a live transaction, centered around a 91-year old Dutch retailer, HEMA, where the private…

November 17, 2017

U of T celebrates the opening of One Spadina Crescent

Toronto, ON – Today, the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design celebrated the official opening of its new home — the Daniels Building — at historic One Spadina Crescent. Located on the western edge of the University of Toronto’s St. George campus just north of College Street, the iconic neo-gothic building and stunning contemporary addition, currently nearing completion, is now poised to become an international focal point for education, research, and outreach on architecture, art, and the…

November 14, 2017

Rotman School Professor and Former Dean Named as Most Influential Management Thinker in the World

Toronto, ON – A professor and former Dean of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management was named as the number one management thinker in the world by Thinkers50, the premier ranking of global business thinkers. Prof. Roger Martin, the former Dean of the Rotman School from 1998 to 2012, received the honour during an awards gala in London, UK last night. A second Rotman faculty member, Prof. Richard Florida placed 19th on the list of the top fifty…

November 13, 2017

Rotman MBA Students Win Kellogg Business Design Challenge

Toronto, ON – A team of MBA students from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management have won the Kellogg Business Design Challenge hosted by the Kellogg School of Management’s Innovation and Design Association. The long-running competition, which invites students to apply design thinking to a real-world business challenge, was opened up to teams outside the Kellogg School for the first time this year. The Rotman team, Lorem Ipsum, consisting of Full Time MBA students Amarpreet Kaur, MBA’19; Fifile Nguyen, MBA’19,…

See all news releases

General Inquiries
+1 (416) 978-0100

Email
media.relations@utoronto.ca

U of T in the News

Toronto Life | January 5, 2017

I had to decide whether to take my academic career to Canada. Donald Trump made it an easy choice

Jerry Flores of UTM discusses what influenced his decision to come to U of T. Read more. 

New York Times | January 4, 2017

The strange origin of a manakin’s golden crown

Alfredo Barrera-Guzmán and Jason Weir of UTSC explain how certain birds diversified into several distinct species. Read more. 

The Globe and Mail | January 3, 2017

The school of hard Knox: A neglected Toronto architectural centrepiece gets its due

Richard Sommer, Dean of the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, discusses his aspirations for One Spadina. Read more. 

Toronto, ON – Cancerous tumours are known to release cells into the bloodstream, and it is these circulating tumour cells or CTCs that are the sources of metastatic tumours – tumours that spread and form in distant locations in the body.  In fact, most patients who succumb to cancer do not die because of the initial tumours that form, but rather because of the deadly secondary metastatic tumours that appear at distant sites.  As a result, understanding the biology and clinical relevance of these traveling cells is critical in our fight against cancer. Monitoring circulating tumour cells, however, is a tremendous challenge as they are outnumbered in blood by healthy cells at a level of over 1 billion-to-1.  Moreover, they can display varied and dynamic properties, and the collection of CTCs found in the bloodstream of a cancer patient may have differing metastatic potential.  Consequently, efforts to integrate the analysis of these cells into mainstream clinical medicine have been limited because it has been difficult to pinpoint what types of cells and what phenotypic properties should be targeted.  But the potential of CTCs to allow the collection of a non-invasive “liquid biopsy” to monitor cancer progression is a tantalizing possibility that has continued to attract significant attention to this problem. A breakthrough by Professor Shana Kelley’s research group at the University of Toronto published in Nature Nanotechnology provides a new tool to characterize CTCs that may help cancer biologists and clinicians understand how to use these cells to provide better treatment.  Using magnetic nanoparticles, CTCs in blood samples were targeted based on proteins displayed on the cell surface, and separated based on the levels of the protein present.  Using a high–resolution microfluidic device, cells are then separated into 100 different capture zones to generate a profile that provides phenotypic information related to metastatic potential.  Using this approach and monitoring cells generated in animal models of cancer and in samples collected from prostate cancer patients, the properties of CTCs were shown to evolve and become more aggressive as tumours became more advanced. “Through this approach, we aimed to provide a new way to profile CTCs beyond simply counting their numbers in clinical samples,” explained Dr. Mahla Poudineh, lead student author on the paper.  “Instead, we wanted to provide phentotypic information that might allow these cells to be classified as benign or more dangerous, which would then inform treatment options.” “We were very fortunate to collaborate with a number of oncologists at the Sunnybrook Research Centre and Princess Margaret Hospital as we developed this technology so that we could test our approach with real patient specimens and better understand how to adapt it for use in the clinic,” noted Dr. Kelley. The Kelley group (http://www.kelleylaboratory.com/), along with collaborators in the Sargent group (http://www.light.utoronto.ca/) at the University of Toronto, hope to turn the approach they reported into a device that can be used by cancer researchers and eventually clinicians to allow CTC analysis to be monitored routinely and used to limit the progression of cancer. Read the paper, “Tracking the dynamics of circulating tumour cell phenotypes using nanoparticle-mediated magnetic ranking,” at Nature Nanotechnology: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nnano.2016.239. - 30 - For more information about this breakthrough discovery, please contact: Jef Ekins Manager, Marketing & Communications Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto 416-946-7036 j.ekins@utoronto.ca Shana Kelley Professor Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto 416-978-8641 shana.kelley@utoronto.ca  

Latest Media Releases

Below is a selection of recent press releases. For all the latest news please visit www.utoronto.ca/news

December 11, 2017

Ontario Should Revise Discriminatory Policy Against Refugee Drivers

Toronto, ON – Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation should revise its policy and allow experienced drivers from war-torn countries to skip the one-year waiting period before their final driving tests - an exemption available to other newcomers in Ontario as well as refugees in other provinces, the International Human Rights Program at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law (IHRP) said today. Under the current policy, the Government of Ontario is discriminating against refugees from Syria and other conflict zones by effectively…

December 6, 2017

Team of Rotman Evening MBA Students Advances to Regional Finals for the Hult Prize

Toronto, ON – A team of students from the Evening MBA program at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management have won the UofT quarterfinal qualifying round to advance to the regional finals of the Hult Prize, the world’s largest student competition for social entrepreneurs. Purifire, consisting of Daniel Weng, Andrea Lo, Nirusan Rajakulendran, and Michael Bosompra, all from the Rotman MBA Class of 2020, will advance to the regional finals to be held in March 2018. The goal…

November 21, 2017

New Financial Innovation Hub Established at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management

Toronto, ON – A new partnership has been launched at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management to promote and develop initiatives for students and faculty in the area of financial innovation across all of the school’s programs. The Rotman Financial Innovation Hub in Advanced Analytics (Rotman FinHub) will create new classes and learning opportunities for students in financial innovation including machine learning and blockchain in the school’s MBA, Master of Finance, and Master of Financial Risk Management programs…

November 20, 2017

Rotman MBAS Win International Private Equity Competition

Toronto, ON – For the second week in a row a team of Full Time MBA students from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management have won a prestigious international competition. On Saturday, the Rotman students won the Rotterdam School of Management Private Equity Competition in Amsterdam defeating teams from INSEAD, IESE and Georgetown University in the final round. This year, the case involved candidates in a live transaction, centered around a 91-year old Dutch retailer, HEMA, where the private…

November 17, 2017

U of T celebrates the opening of One Spadina Crescent

Toronto, ON – Today, the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design celebrated the official opening of its new home — the Daniels Building — at historic One Spadina Crescent. Located on the western edge of the University of Toronto’s St. George campus just north of College Street, the iconic neo-gothic building and stunning contemporary addition, currently nearing completion, is now poised to become an international focal point for education, research, and outreach on architecture, art, and the…

November 14, 2017

Rotman School Professor and Former Dean Named as Most Influential Management Thinker in the World

Toronto, ON – A professor and former Dean of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management was named as the number one management thinker in the world by Thinkers50, the premier ranking of global business thinkers. Prof. Roger Martin, the former Dean of the Rotman School from 1998 to 2012, received the honour during an awards gala in London, UK last night. A second Rotman faculty member, Prof. Richard Florida placed 19th on the list of the top fifty…

November 13, 2017

Rotman MBA Students Win Kellogg Business Design Challenge

Toronto, ON – A team of MBA students from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management have won the Kellogg Business Design Challenge hosted by the Kellogg School of Management’s Innovation and Design Association. The long-running competition, which invites students to apply design thinking to a real-world business challenge, was opened up to teams outside the Kellogg School for the first time this year. The Rotman team, Lorem Ipsum, consisting of Full Time MBA students Amarpreet Kaur, MBA’19; Fifile Nguyen, MBA’19,…

See all news releases

General Inquiries
+1 (416) 978-0100

Email
media.relations@utoronto.ca

U of T in the News

Toronto Life | January 5, 2017

I had to decide whether to take my academic career to Canada. Donald Trump made it an easy choice

Jerry Flores of UTM discusses what influenced his decision to come to U of T. Read more. 

New York Times | January 4, 2017

The strange origin of a manakin’s golden crown

Alfredo Barrera-Guzmán and Jason Weir of UTSC explain how certain birds diversified into several distinct species. Read more. 

The Globe and Mail | January 3, 2017

The school of hard Knox: A neglected Toronto architectural centrepiece gets its due

Richard Sommer, Dean of the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, discusses his aspirations for One Spadina. Read more.