At the end of 2018, the Chordoma Foundation and the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) together awarded two new grants totaling $300,000 to Canadian researchers whose work in epigenetics and immunotherapy stand to have a lasting impact on chordoma treatment and care.
The grants, issued as part of the first-ever Chordoma Research Grants Competition in Canada, are designed to answer key questions about chordoma that are critical to better understanding and treating the disease. These include:
- What role does epigenetics – the biological mechanisms that switch genes on and off – play in the development and progression of chordoma?
- How can promising immune therapeutics that are being used in other cancers be applied to successfully treat chordoma?
About the awards
The Chordoma Research Grants competition is the result of a community-driven partnership between the Chordoma Foundation, the Canadian Cancer Society, and generous Canadian donors. This partnership, initiated in 2017, is specifically designed to support and advance high priority chordoma research in Canada and generate new ideas that lead to critically needed systemic therapies for chordoma.
Following the submission of several promising proposals in response to our 2018 call for abstracts, a rigorous review process was conducted and two outstanding physician-scientists were selected to receive the inaugural awards: Gelareh Zadeh, MD, PhD at the University of Toronto and Stephen Yip, MD, PhD at the BC Cancer Agency in Vancouver.
About the awardees
|Gelareh Zadeh, MD, PhD (University of Toronto) – |
Using state of the art technologies Dr. Zadeh’s team will undertake the largest study to date to characterize epigenetic alterations in chordoma. The data generated would help predict why certain tumors respond better to different types of treatment and why certain tumors are more likely to recur within specific periods of time after initial surgery. Furthermore, this work is expected to lead to new epigenetic targets and the development of novel therapeutics.
|Stephen Yip, MD, PhD (BC Cancer Agency) – |
The goal of Dr. Yip’s project is to make chordoma tumors more susceptible to immune attack. Dr. Yip will apply knowledge gained from his studies in chordoma genetics and epigenetics to identify drugs that would make chordoma tumors more responsive to a particular class of immune therapies called immune checkpoint inhibitors.
In addition to receiving $150,000 in funding, each investigator will have access to resources developed and supported by the Chordoma Foundation including cell lines and animal tumor models. Drugs identified in either of the two programs that require preclinical testing in mouse models can be assessed as part of the Chordoma Foundation’s Drug Screening Program.
Over the last 12 years since the initiation of the Foundation, we have successfully expanded the chordoma research community worldwide and attracted talent to the field. Our partnership with CCS has enhanced research efforts in Canada and enabled CCS to fund chordoma-specific research for the first time in its history. This exciting partnership was made possible through the dedicated fundraising efforts of our Canadian ambassadors, Steven Golick and Ed Les whose tireless engagement over the past several years has opened the door to exciting new research opportunities. We are grateful for the relationship that has been built with CCS and for the commitment that they have demonstrated in bringing these new grant opportunities to fruition.