Prime Minister Stephen Harper visits Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) at MaRS
Prime Minister Stephen Harper visits OICR at MaRS

Cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada.

In 2007, cancer accounted for almost 70,000 deaths across the country–more than heart disease and stroke combined. It’s rare to meet a person who hasn’t been affected by cancer in some way: no one is immune and there’s no cure. Yet.

This afternoon, Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited MaRS to announce that the Government of Canada is renewing support for the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, a nationwide not-for-profit that works to reduce the number of cancer cases, minimize cancer-related deaths and improve patient quality of life.

“Challenges like cancer take the whole country to get behind,” said Prime Minister Harper. “The funding announced today is part of our government’s commitment to keep Canadians and their families healthy, to help doctors detect cancer sooner and give health-care workers, support groups and survivors the help they need to fight back.”

Several of MaRS’ life sciences and health care clients are also playing a big part in Canada’s fight against cancer. From a new prostate cancer treatment technology that’s faster, less invasive and more accurate than existing technologies to a genetic test that assesses a person’s risk for colon cancer, these companies are looking outside the box for cancer treatment, diagnostics and prevention to solve one of the biggest health issues facing our nation:

  • Profound Medical is commercializing a unique, minimally-invasive approach for the treatment of prostate cancer (read more about Profound Medical in the most recent issue of Convergence or watch our Meet the Entrepreneurs video).
  • Armour Therapeutics is in the process of developing a new class of drugs to slow the development of prostate cancer.
  • ArcticDX is in the trial phase for a genetic test for colon cancer. Its test can specifically identify if a person has an increased risk of developing a disease based on his or her genes (learn more about ArcticDX in another of our Meet the Entrepreneurs videos).
  • Receptor Therapeutics is a biopharmaceutical company focused on in-licensing and developing novel anti-cancer therapies with a reduced risk of failure.
  • Rna Diagnostics is developing personalized medical diagnostics to assist in the management of cancer and other diseases. Its first product, RNA Disruption Assay, is a test that measures RNA structural dysfunction in cancer cells. (Learn more in our blog about Rna Diagnostics’ award.)

MaRS is also home to the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, a not-for-profit organization that translates research findings into programs, technologies and therapies.

The battle against cancer is a big one, but one that will be won with small steps. This funding announcement, the innovative work done by start-up companies, non-profit organizations that aggregate and analyze information from across the country–these are the small victories that will lead to big results.

“We’re making progress on prevention, diagnosis, treatment and hope,” said Prime Minister Harper. “And in tracking our progress closely, the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer is leading us on the path to a cure.”

Vanessa Caldwell

Vanessa is a writer at MaRS. She writes all kinds of things, like posts for the MaRS blog, articles for Convergence (the MaRS magazine) and the weekly MaRS eNewsletters. See more…