Premier Christy Clark listens as Jennifer Strack describes her successful treatment for lung cancer.

Genetic technique gets results against cancer

Premier Christy Clark announces $3 million boost to DNA project that offers new hope for cancer patients

The B.C. government is investing an extra $3 million to expand a program that tailors cancer treatment to the genetic makeup of individual patients.

The B.C. Cancer Agency is ramping up its Personalized Onco-Genomics (POG) project after seeing encouraging results, including reversal of some cancers thought to be all but untreatable. Researchers cautioned that the technique isn’t a cure for cancer, but it has been effective in identifying drugs that can reduce a life-threatening condition to a manageable chronic illness.

Dr. Janessa Laskin, the cancer specialist in charge of the POG program, said three quarters of the oncologists in B.C. are now participating in the program, selecting and referring patients from all over the province. The technique is “the future of oncology,” and the goal is to keep expanding it until every cancer patient can be assessed, Laskin said.

Premier Christy Clark and Health Minister Terry Lake announced the additional funds at the B.C. Cancer Agency in Vancouver Tuesday. Clark said the intent is to increase funding further in the coming years for a program that is attracting international interest and financial support.

The agency highlighted patients helped by the technique. A 41-year-old non-smoker, Jennifer Strack described her shock at being diagnosed with aggressive lung cancer 18 months ago. Strack underwent five rounds of conventional chemotherapy with little effect, as tumours grew in her lungs and spread to her liver.

The POG program identified one drug that was not effective, but Strack began taking another one that halted the growth and reduced the tumours. Laskin said the genetic testing identifies drug that would otherwise never be considered.

Zuri Scrivens was treated at age 33 for breast cancer, and when it reappeared two years later she was enrolled in the POG program. Her cancer went into remission after a diabetes drug was used in combination with a breast cancer drug.

Since clinical trials began in 2012, more than 350 patients with 50 different types of cancer have had their genetic material studied in the program. With private donations through the B.C. Cancer Foundation, the new government funds and international grant support, the target for POG is to enrol 2,000 patients in the next five years

Just Posted

Port Hardy council hesitant to formalize question period in agendas, refers it to committee

In first act as new council, representatives were uncertain about formalizing question periods.

Gas prices on Vancouver Island to drop six cents

But a ‘volatile’ market could lead to increases in the coming weeks

Mt. Waddington’s Salvation Army releases eye-opening statistics report for 2017

Shelter overnight stays saw a 431 per cent increase since 2014.

B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

Lest we forget what thousands of men and women did to fight for Canada’s freedoms – but without new membership, many Legion chapters face dwindling numbers

BC Ferries passengers wait to leave Vancouver Island after Remembrance Day

Traffic aboard BC Ferries slows after Remembrance Day long weekend

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Vancouver Island remembers

Important stories shared as Islanders salute those who made the greatest sacrifice

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

Cowichan school district defends lack of notice to parents following elementary student arrest

Officials with School District 79 stand by their decision not to send out an alert.

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

Most Read