Cancer research targets treatment with fewer side effects

The federal government invested $2.8 million into research projects at the Atlantic Cancer Research Institute in Moncton on Tuesday.

The Atlantic Cancer Research Institute in Moncton will be using $2.8 million in federal funding to develop a cancer treatment with fewer side effects.

Dr. Stephen Lewis, the ACRI's assistant scientific director, said the goal is to target cancer cells, which chemotherapy can't do.

“We're going to use our tools to find the Achilles' heel that makes cells with a loss of chromosome 3 susceptible to new drugs," he said.

"We'll be able to use our tools to develop, not only drugs that target and kill cancer cells, but that specifically target and kill cancer cells.”

Chemotherapy indiscriminately kills rapidly growing cells, leading to many of the side effects associated with cancer treatment, said Lewis.

"It's the golden ring for cancer research, is to find a therapy that will only kill cancer cells," he said.

"We're lucky to be at this point in our technology that we have new tools available that will allow us to take a better approach to develop those types of therapeutics."

The funding, announced on Tuesday, comes from ACOA's Atlantic Innovation Fund, which focuses specifically on research and development projects that will at some point become commercialized.

The money will be used to hire specialists and acquire equipment, said Lewis.

Meanwhile, the University of Moncton is also getting $2.7 million in ACOA funding to validate the health benefits of Ahiflower oil as a possible dietary supplement.

Ahiflower is a wild plant that produces seeds with a unique Omega-3 fatty acid-enriched oil profile with beneficial biological properties.

The research project, which will explore the use of biofertilizers to increase the oil yield of Ahiflower and other seed crops, will provide the data required for the commercialization of Ahiflower oil as a supplement, officials said.

The research will also identify unique molecules derived from the oil that may have pharmacological properties and qualify the health benefits of combining Ahiflower oil with dairy products.

“These two projects supported by this latest round of AIF funding will contribute to an innovative, productive and competitive economy here in the Moncton region and across Atlantic Canada,” said Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe MP Robert Goguen.