By McGill Reporter
Readers of Québec Science magazine have chosen a cancer breakthrough by an MUHC researcher as the “Discovery of the Year” for 2008.
The discovery of a cancer spread mechanism by Dr. Janusz Rak, a professor in pediatric oncology at the Faculty of Medicine and a researcher at the Research Institute of the Montreal Children’s Hospital, was chosen from a list of 10 finalists, which included three other McGill-related discoveries.
Rak and his colleagues, Dr. Khalid Al-Nedawi and Brian Meehan, found that cancer cells communicate with their more healthy counterparts by releasing vesicles. These bubble-like structures – called oncosomes – contain cancer-causing (oncogenic) proteins that can merge into healthy cells and “contaminate” them. These findings could change our view on how cancerous tissues work, and lead to major clinical innovations.
“All the research projects nominated this year – and a great many that were not – are gems in their own right. This honour is gratifying, but also humbling and motivating for my team,” Dr. Rak said. “Many people can relate to cancer and I think people respond favourably to projects that aim at making a meaningful difference that affects them.”