Dream Teams

A distinctive feature of SU2C-funded research is the “Dream Team” concept, in which researchers from different universities or other institutions come together to share resources and data and work collaboratively to develop new and innovative therapies for cancer. The funds are derived from a nationwide telecast in 2014 that appealed to the Canadian public to pledge support for cancer research, awareness, and education, and from the support of generous collaborating groups.

A call for ideas for research proposals was issued by SU2C Canada after the telecast. The proposals were reviewed by the SU2C Canada Scientific Advisory Committee, composed of leading researchers and co-chaired by Alan Bernstein, OC, PhD, FRSC, President and CEO of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), and Nobel Laureate Phillip A. Sharp, PhD, Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT.

As Dr. Sharp put it, “Cancer is an extremely difficult and complex problem. The Dream Team approach, in which outstanding researchers work together in a collaborative manner, is our best opportunity to move promising treatments from ‘bench to beside’ as quickly as possible and benefit the patients who need them so desperately.”

Cancer Stem Cell Dream Team

Team Leaders: Peter Dirks, MD, PhD Samuel Weiss, PhD

In their search for new treatment approaches in two of the most devastating cancers, both in brain, in adults and children – glioblastomas and infant ependymomas – the Dream Team will focus on a specific type of cell, called brain tumor stem cells (BTSCs). While similar to nerve stem cells that mature during normal brain development, abnormal programming in BTSCs allows them to drive tumor relapse and drug resistance. The Dream Team’s goal is to understand the abnormalities in BTSCs so that they can identify vulnerabilities that can be used to develop new drugs that are effective against brain cancers.

Scientific Abstract (PDF)
Team Progress Updates (PDF)

“Our team will conduct multiple analyses of brain cancer stem cells, profiling their biological makeup to identify drugs that are likely to block the uncontrolled growth of the tumours, and carry out clinical trials across Canada to find the safest and most effective drugs to treat these cancers.”—Team Leader Peter B. Dirks, MD, PhD, neurosurgeon and senior scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto.

SU2C Canada – CBCF Breast Cancer Dream Team

Team Leaders: Tak W. Mak, PhD Samuel Aparicio, BM, BCh, PhD, FRCPath

The SU2C Canada-CBCF Breast Cancer Dream Team is the first to be announced since SU2C Canada was launched in 2014. The team is funded over a period of four years for $6 million provided by SU2C and by CBCF, with support from CIBC, and $3 million from OICR. The team will conduct clinical trials in six provinces, with those in Ontario funded by the OICR commitment. SU2C Canada funds derive from its nationwide telecast last year that appealed to the Canadian public to pledge support for cancer research, awareness, and education.

Scientific Abstract (PDF)
Team Progress Updates (PDF)

“We will give our new drugs to patients for whom other treatments have not worked, and monitor them to see whether a significant percentage of these patients responds to one or more of these drugs. By respond, we mean that we hope these patients’ tumours shrink, or at least that their disease holds steady rather than getting worse.”—Tak W. Mak, PhD, director of the Campbell Family Institute for Breast Cancer Research at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto and Dream Team leader.