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

National Drug Drop-Off month aims to reduce substance abuse by house-bound youth

Expert says there is misconception prescribed medication is safe to take

Victoria mayor wants newspaper boxes removed from downtown streets

Mayor Lisa Helps says the boxes are not needed, often filled with garbage

Esquimalt artists take to great outdoors amid coronavirus

Group invites budding, or just willing artists, to join at Saxe Point

Langford firefighters raise $1,065 for Burn Camp

B.C. firefighters and burn survivors raise $200,068 this year for Burn Camp

Victoria church to ring bells for 75th anniversary of atomic bombings

Bells expected at 8:15 a.m. on Aug. 6 and 11:50 a.m. on Aug. 9

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Plane crashes into Nelson supermarket parking lot

Pilot and passenger have minor injuries

SOOKE HISTORY: A peek into the journal of John George Whiffin

Elida Peers | Contributed One of our most popular walks is on… Continue reading

Michael Buble among 13 British Columbians to receive Order of B.C.

Ceremony will be delayed to 2021 due to COVID-19

U.S. border communities feel loss of Canadian tourists, shoppers and friends

Restrictions on non-essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border have been in place since March 2`

Rollout of COVID-19 Alert app faces criticism over accessibility

App requires users to have Apple or Android phones made in the last five years, and a relatively new operating system

Alleged impaired driver sparks small wildfire near Lytton after crash: B.C. RCMP

Good Samaritans prevented the blaze from getting out of control

B.C. First Nation adopts ‘digital twinning’ software to better manage territory

Software allows users to visualize what a mountain might look like if the trees on its slopes were logged

Most Read