Dr. John Lewis announces a new and non-invasive blood test called ClarityDx which can detect prostate cancer 40% more accurately than current Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) testing.
A simple blood test that has the ability to accurately identify which patients require treatment for prostate cancer has the potential to improve patients’ treatment success and quality of life, while saving significant health-care system costs.
The most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in men – prostate cancer will affect one in six in their lifetime. If caught early, the survival rate for localized, non-aggressive prostate cancer is 99 per cent however many men are currently being diagnosed and receiving treatment without actually needing it. Thanks to your support, progress is being made in the lab of the Alberta Cancer Foundation’s Frank and Carla Sojonky Chair in Prostate Cancer Research held by Dr. John Lewis at the University of Alberta.
Without the support of Alberta Cancer Foundation donors, advanced screening would never have the opportunity to make it from the lab to the bedside of patients.
Currently managing and overseeing the Alberta Prostate Cancer Registry and Biorepository – one of the largest prostate collections in the world – Dr. Lewis has access to over 200,000 Albertan patient samples. This vast amount of data available for research has given Dr. Lewis the opportunity to make immense strides in prostate cancer research with a direct line of sight for Albertans facing cancer. Most recently, Dr. Lewis and his team have focused their attention on validating a group of biomarkers that can tell aggressive prostate cancer from non-aggressive.
Utilizing biorepository samples from over 500 Albertans, Dr. Lewis has developed an accurate blood test, called ClarityDX, which will help determine whether a patient requires a biopsy for further testing, based on the identified biomarkers.
The first of its kind in Canada, this discovery will be impactful for patients who have received a cancer diagnosis and made the decision to take part in “active surveillance” – an option offered to patients with low-risk prostate cancer. This active surveillance program requires patients to receive a yearly biopsy – an invasive and potentially complicated procedure. Because of these risks, some patients opt to receive unnecessary surgery rather than get biopsied repeatedly. This blood test will give patients and their health-care teams the ability to see if their cancer has worsened, and will provide confidence to either maintain active surveillance without the requirement of a biopsy, or look into possible treatment options. And for those patients who have been identified by the blood test as having an aggressive disease, outcomes will improve as they will be able to start proper treatment sooner, perhaps before symptoms present themselves.
“This technology will change the management of prostate cancer. Once this test is implemented – you will only be recommended to get a biopsy if you need one.” – Dr. John Lewis
Next steps include taking this test from the lab to the clinic, where it will be a critical screening step that will work in conjunction with PSA (prostate-specific antigen) testing. If a patient’s PSA is above a certain threshold, they will receive the new blood test. Once put into action, Dr. Lewis estimates that up to 40 per cent of unnecessary biopsies could be avoided.
Dr. Lewis continues to study ways to block the spread of cancer, and has made great progress developing “tumour glue” – a type of drug that would have the ability to prevent cancer cells from metastasizing to other parts of the body.
Two years ago, his team identified 17 genes that are involved in the metastases process, and seven of the genes have since been validated to block metastasis completely. Dr. Lewis and his team are working to develop “a tumour glue” drug based on these genes that will prevent the spread of cancer in patients, making it the first drug in the world to do so.
Because of you, Alberta continues to be a leader in prostate cancer research. Thank you for making investments that matter.
A Groundbreaking Discovery in Head and Neck Cancer Treatment
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After life-saving surgery for head and neck cancer, the physical alterations to a patient’s face can be devastating. A dream team of scientists in Alberta have made a groundbreaking discovery that will allow patients to receive customized nasal reconstructions using their own cells. This progress is possible, because of you.
While a majority of head and neck cancer is treatable, the effects of the disease and subsequent treatment can lead to loss of function and disfigurement.
As such a prominent feature, deformities to the nose are difficult to conceal which can lead to much emotional distress. Currently, to rebuild a nose, surgeons must perform an invasive surgery – that can take up to 12 hours – where cartilage is taken from another site on a patient’s body and reconstructed in real time.
We are taking parts from other areas in the body that are only meant to be used in those original parts. We can do it but it comes with a cost. But what we have come up with is to make cartilage that is biologically identical to the patient’s so we will be able to eliminate other morbidities and poor outcomes they currently face.
Dr. Khalid Ansari, associate professor of surgery at the University of Alberta
Thanks to funding from the Alberta Cancer Foundation Mickleborough Interfacial Bioscience Research program, the Alberta-based team is able to engineer high-quality “custom-made” cartilage that will be created specifically for each patient. They have proven it in the lab but the next step will be to translate that knowledge to patients.
“The day we can give a surgeon a piece of cartilage to restore the nose will be a really exciting day,” says Dr. Martin Osswald, a maxiofacial prosthodontist with the Institute of Reconstructive Sciences in Medicine and associate professor in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta. “This is all about the patient–patients have entrusted us to get them back to their lives and this is one way we can help with that.”
The team—including mechanical engineers, plastic surgeons, industrial designers—ensures everything they do is centred around the patient.
“We knew this was possible—we just needed the right combination of talent, setting and funds,” says Dr. Adetola Adesida, an associate professor in the University of Alberta’s Department of Surgery. “We established this team around the patient, from research to surgery to reconstruction and that allows us to give them the highest quality tissue.”
Together we can continue to provide Albertans with the best possible treatment and care available.