Seeking answers to cancer's toughest questions

Innovative London researchers tackle cancer with new funding from Canadian Cancer Society

LONDON, Ontario, July 25, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - Two scientists at the University of Western Ontario are receiving new funding from the Canadian Cancer Society for taking innovative approaches to cancer research.

"Ontario continues to produce innovative research that ranks among the best in the world. We are proud to support these new projects because they bring a unique perspective in our fight against cancer," says Mary Argent-Katwala, Director, Research, . "We keenly anticipate the impact that the research will have on the lives of all Canadians."

Dr Paula Foster of the University of Western Ontario has received nearly $200,000 to study how cancer spreads using powerful imaging techniques developed in her lab.

The spread of cancer, known as metastasis, is one of the biggest challenges in cancer treatment, as the disease becomes much more difficult to treat once it spreads. Dr Foster is using innovative MRI technology to study how cancer cells change the tissue environment to which they migrate, before their arrival, in order to support their own growth. Her creative approach of looking at cancer cells' new destinations rather than the initial tumour could change the current understanding of metastasis and potentially lead to development of new therapies.

Dr Dale Laird has received nearly $200,000 to study a newly discovered protein found on the surface of melanoma cells. Dr Laird's research team will be the first to study this protein's involvement in skin cancer. The team will explore the innovative idea that this protein may be involved in the growth and spread of harmful melanoma, which is estimated to be responsible for about three-quarters of skin-cancer-related deaths. An estimated 5,800 Canadians will be diagnosed with melanoma in 2012. Dr Laird's research may provide evidence that this new protein could be a potential target for new drugs to treat melanoma.

The Society's Innovation Grants were developed to support innovative and creative problem-solving in cancer research. The goal is to support unconventional concepts, approaches or methodologies to address problems in cancer research.

A total of 28 grants representing a $5.4 million investment across the country were announced today. The Canadian Cancer Society is the largest national charitable funder of cancer research in Canada. For more information about the Society's research funding, visit

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.