A research team from McGill and the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI MUHC) led by Dr. Nada Jabado, a hemato-oncologist at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, has received a major investment of over $5 million for an innovative project on the genomic biomarkers associated with pediatric glioblastoma, a form of incurable cancer. This project aims to develop new therapeutic approaches that are more targeted and therefore more effective.
The Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology Pierre Duchesne made the announcement on April 16 as part of a total investment of $34.2 million in genomics and personalized health care for the eight projects in Quebec out of a total of 17 across Canada that were selected. Entitled Genomics and Personalized Health, the competition was organized by Genome Canada in partnership with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
“It is immensely satisfying to learn that our project has been selected and recognized by Genome Canada and the CIHR. Genomics will help us open the door to new approaches in personalized medicine in the near future,” stated Dr. Jabado, who is also a researcher in Medical Genetics and Genomics at the RI MUHC and associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at McGill. “This investment in a pediatric research project on a rare disease represents enormous hope for children who are diagnosed with this extremely deadly form of cancer.”
In Canada, 200 children and 300 young adults are diagnosed with glioblastoma every year. With the current therapeutic approach, 90 per cent of patients die within three years. Thanks to a better understanding of the genetic mutations at play, this project will help improve the quality of life for these young patients. The goal of this project is to develop and deploy a diagnostic test through clinical trials to identify particular gene mutations in glioblastoma patients and apply the best treatment strategy for patients.
“Génome Québec is proud to support promising projects such as the one spearheaded by Dr. Nada Jabado and her team,” said Mark LePage, President and CEO of Génome Québec. “For these young patients and their families, this represents the hope of improved quality of life. Genomics research has become increasingly focused on evidence-based results and concrete solutions that provide the greatest possible benefit to all Quebecers.”
“This achievement of Dr. Jabado’s team demonstrates the momentum, excellence and potential of the genomics research sector in personalized medicine in Quebec,” said Dr. Vassilios Papadopoulos, executive director and chief scientific officer of the RI MUHC. “This investment will make pediatric research at the RI MUHC and McGill a driving force of innovation and will help our researchers make therapeutic advances for children with brain cancer.”
“I would like to thank the government of Quebec, Génome Québec, the government of Canada, Genome Canada, CIHR and our other funding partners for the support they are providing to advance the leading research being conducted at McGill University,” said Principal Heather Munroe-Blum. “Dr. Nada Jabado and her team are breaking new ground with the goal of helping these children and young adults live better lives. This welcomed investment is crucial in advancing their efforts.”
This project is led by Dr. Nada Jabado and co-led by Dr. Jacek Majewski, associate professor in the Department of Human Genetics at McGill, and Dr. Tomi Pastinen, associate professor and Canada Research chair in Human Genomics at McGill.