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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Electricity, natural gas use spiked during cold snap: FortisBC

FortisBC said that natural gas use was 50 per cent higher on Jan. 14, compared to week prior

Occupants escape early morning house fire in Grand Forks

Grand Forks Fire/Rescue was called to the scene at 3:38 a.m. on Jan. 15

Latest winter storm prompts West Kootenay travel warning

20-30 cm of snow expected overnight and into Thursday

Impromptu shelter opens in Grand Forks

Volunteers were given owner’s access to building previously used as warming centre in Grand Forks

Programs available in West Kootenay for substance use challenges

Sign up now for two six-week programs in January and March

Kids across Canada more at risk of hospitalization from flu this season: doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam said influenza B does not usually peak until February or later

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Good Samaritan pays part of rent for B.C. woman facing eviction in can-collecting dispute

Zora Hlevnjak, 76, supplements her pension by collecting cans and receiving public donations

Kelowna’s ‘Baby Mary’ finds biological parents after more than 30 years

Geneologist and DNA test helped her connect with her biological parents

Kelowna hotel to award couples for baby-making with Nooner deal

The deal includes a free stay every Valentine’s Day for the next 18 years

On the job hunt with Nelson’s Make A Change Canada

The employment charity is organizing next week’s Kootenay Patricks, Montreal Canadiens game

‘Scariest boat ride of my life’: Passengers trapped by ice on rocky B.C. ferry sailing

The Nimpkish docked in Bella Coola on Jan.12 coated in a thick layer of ice

B.C. pair ordered to pay $55,000 for oil tank discovered four years after selling home

Judge says defendants breached contract, despite being unaware of tank until basement flooded

Canada to give $25,000 to families of each Canadian who died in Iran plane crash

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also made it clear that Canada still expects Iran to compensate victims

Most Read