Pipeline to Precision Medicine

Dr. Marignani is the lead on an new initiative that is creating pipelines to precision medicine for improving high mortality cancer outcomes. By bringing together approximately two dozen scientists and clinicians from various fundamental research disciplines, P2P is focused on improving the lives of people living with cancer.

The vision of High Mortality Cancer Precision Medicine Pipeline (P2P) is to improve high mortality cancer outcomes. The mission of P2P is to establish algorithms for precision medicine for cancers informed by the molecular profile of a patient’s tumour and lead to precise, effective treatments. P2P excellence are in areas of i) gene-discovery that allows for the identification of new barcodes and therefore new targets; ii) animal models that recapitulate human cancers, and patient-derived xenografts that allow for pre-clinical trials in mouse models to test novel drugs and drug development; iii) immunology and cancer stem cell biology to explore the role the immune system and cancer stem cell niche on tumourigenesis and  effective treatment; iv) single-cell fluidics and 3D organ systems that allow for understanding the heterogeneity of cancers; and v) data mining and collaborative assessments that allow for better treatment choices and the discovery of new treatment options based on the molecular barcodes of each patient’s cancer.

Demographics: P2P is comprised of 10 early career investigators (ECI), 8 mid-career investigators (MCI) and 4 senior career investigators (SCI). 41% of P2P are female. P2P members have a long standing dedication to cancer research that goes beyond the use of cancer cell lines. We are passionate about improving the lives of people with cancer and we firmly believe that at this moment in time the technology is primed for action.

Historically, biomedical research was unidirectional, from lab to bench; every single drug and/or therapy used in the treatment of cancers was born from fundamental research laboratories dating back to early days of molecular biology. This model served us well, since treatments based on a few biomarkers did indeed improve survivorship, but certain cancers remain untreatable even today or have a high rate of recurrence. We have been working towards the creation of a precision medicine bidirectional pipeline that brings together stakeholders; scientists, patients, healthcare providers and clinicians. Our goal is to conduct molecular analytics on an individual’s cancer that will identify unique barcodes for that individual’s cancer. With these data in hand, we will be better positioned to develop precise treatments tailored for an individual’s unique cancer. P2P has expertise in genomics, proteomics, epigenomics, metabolomics, immunology, signalling networks, gene-editing of animals to develop human cancers, and bioinformatics.

Our Partners: P2P partnership with lung cancer patients has made the Atlantic Tumour Bank possible. More recently, P2P has formed a partnership with the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation. Through this partnership, P2P is adding a Fluidigm C1 single-cell analytics to our high throughput technology platforms.

What we’ve accomplished to date: P2P members have been successful at winning $39M in operating funds, published 560 high impact publications and 1000+ peer-reviewed scientific abstracts. Collectively, P2P has trained 332 trainees; 190 undergraduate students (UG), 47 undergraduate medical students (UGMD), 56 Master of Science (MSc) and 50 Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) graduate students, and 47 postdoctoral fellows (PDF).  P2P trainees have been successful at winning $1.5M in scholarship. Trainees have gone on to become scientists, industrial scientists, academic administrators, laboratory technicians, medical doctors, business owners, teachers, accountants and lawyers.

Funding resources include: The Canadian Cancer Society, The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, the Breast Cancer Society, Cancer Research Society, the Lung Association, Canadian Institutes for Health Research, Natural Science and Engineering Research Council, Canadian Foundation for Innovation, The National Cancer Institute of Canada, The Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation, the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute, the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation, partnership with local Hospitals, Allergen, Astra Zeneca, Illumina and private partnerships.