Banking on progress

THE DOCTORS DAMARAJU : Sambu and Vijaya kick back, trading the lab for the movies.

THE DOCTORS DAMARAJU : Sambu and Vijaya kick back, trading the lab for the movies. Learn a little more about the other side of Sambu.

I am pleased to be writing the first official blog post for the Alberta Cancer Foundation. We have so many stories to tell about the progress being made in this province that we want to share them in as many ways as possible.

What better way to talk about progress and impact with the recent discovery made by a research team that included two local researchers, Dr. Sambasivarao Damaraju (fondly called “Sambu” for reasons you can guess) and Dr. John Mackey. Sambu and Dr. Mackey work closely with the Alberta Cancer Research Biorepository and tumour bank, funded in part, by the Alberta Cancer Foundation.

The team of scientists decoded the genetic make-up of triple negative breast cancer – the most deadly form of the disease – and found it’s not one distinct single entity. The study was just published online in the journal, Nature, and reveals that these tumours are extremely complex with an unprecdented range of mutations and can evolve to evade current therapy.

Researchers sequenced DNA isolated from more than 100 tumours to identify common and unique genome level signatures. As Sambu says, “the message was very clear. All tumours, even within the subtype of triple negative breast cancer are not alike, meaning that novel drugs are needed to target these various subtypes. This research would pave the way for developing new drugs and treatment modalities.”

That’s an impressive discovery. And a discovery the team wouldn’t have been able to make without having a world-class tumour bank at their fingertips. Housed at the Cross Cancer Institute, the bank holds thousands of specimens that are considered priceless because of the long years of follow-up post diagnosis. Treatment information and outcomes for the patients treated with standard therapies are key to drive research projects of this nature. The Alberta Cancer Foundation is proud to be a partner in this journey.

As Sambu says, “this is an excellent example of investment vs. return. Tumours banked more than 10 years ago have become invaluable and have contributed to the research productivity today.” We couldn’t agree more. That’s progress.

Myka Osinchuk
~ Myka Osinchuk
CEO, Alberta Cancer Foundation