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The Princess Margaret has been home to a number of groundbreaking discoveries over the years. The discovery of stem cells and t-cell receptors alone now allows doctors to:
- Target cancer more effectively and continue to treat it after cells mutate
- Harness patients’ immune systems to attack cancer
- Personalize and target treatments that are unique to individual cancer patients, sometimes sparing them of the harsh side effects of chemotherapy
Look below to discover more of the major innovations in cancer care made at The Princess Margaret, one of the top five cancer centres in the world.
1950sDr. Vera Peters’ groundbreaking work shows that patients with early Hodgkin disease, then considered incurable, could be cured if given extended field radiotherapy.
1961Dr. Harold Johns develops the “cobalt bomb” for focused high-dose radiotherapy, making it possible to treat deep-seated tissues with radiation therapy.
1961Drs. James Till and Ernest McCulloch discover stem cells and how they function, which changes the course of cancer research.
1970sThe Princess Margaret designs and builds the Hemitron, a machine that delivers full- and half-body radiation.
1971Dr. Victor Ling discovers the role of P-glycoprotein in the development of multi-drug resistance in cancer cells.
1976Dr. Hans Messner performs first allogeneic donor bone marrow transplant at The Princess Margaret. This is now one of the largest blood and marrow transplant programs in the world.
Dr. Tak Mak clones the T-cell receptor, pioneers work in the genetics of immunology.
Dr. Sam Benchimol discovers mutations in the gene p53 are an important driver of cancer.
Dr. Ian Tannock discovers important mechanism by which cancer cells become resistant to chemotherapy.
Drs. Cheryl Arrowsmith, Emil Pail, and Mitsu Ikura solve the 3D structure of cancer-causing proteins, establishing The Princess Margaret as a world leader in structural biology.
Dr. Richard Hill discovers that cancer cells thrive in conditions of low oxygen, opening a new research field.
Dr. John Dick makes the seminal discovery of leukemia stem cells — a discovery made possible by an assay he developed to study human hematopoiesis.
First North American installation of full-field digital mammography enabling earlier diagnosis of breast cancer with less radiation.
Researchers identify a gene that, when mutated, results in medulloblastoma, the most common brain tumour in children.
Dr. David Jaffray pioneers the integration of cone-beam computed tomography (CT) imaging into radiation treatment.
Dr. Norman Boyd identifies breast density as a major risk factor for breast cancer, and later demonstrates that it is highly inheritable.
Dr. John Dick identifies colon cancer stem cells.
Dr. Gordon Keller and his research team successfully develop strategies to produce heart cells, blood cells, pancreatic cells, liver cells, and cartilage producing cells from pluripotent stem cells.
Drs. Frances Shepherd, Ming Tsao, and Igor Jurisica identify a gene “signature” that predicts lung cancer patients’ response to chemotherapy in combination with surgery.
Leukemia researchers, led by Dr. Aaron Schimmer, discover that AML cells have unique reliance on energy production by the mitochondria, opening new treatment strategies for the disease.
Drs. John Cho and Marc de Perrot discover that radiation therapy prior to surgery can double survival rates in mesothelioma patients.
Stem-cell scientists led by Dr. John Dick identify a new view of how human blood is made. Different kinds of blood cells form quickly from the stem cell and not further downstream as traditionally thought.
Prostate cancer researchers, led by Dr. Thomas Kislinger, develop a precise, non-invasive diagnostic tool that can address the worldwide clinical dilemma of over-treating low-risk prostate cancers that may never actually need to be treated.
Dr. Daniel De Carvalho discovers a mechanism to mimic a virus and potentially trigger an immune response to fight colorectal cancer cells like an infection.
Drs. Gary Rodin, Madeline Li, Camilla Zimmermann, and their team develop Managing Cancer and Living Meaningfully (CALM) which shows it is an effective intervention that alleviates depressive symptoms in patients with advanced cancer. It becomes a care model to copy around the world.
Scientists led by Dr. Daniel De Carvalho develop a highly sensitive blood test that can accurately detect and classify cancer at early stages. The test is based on chemically modified alterations in DNA, known as DNA methylation.
Dr. Steven Chan discovers a new drug combination that makes acute myeloid leukemia cells more sensitive to anti-cancer therapy.
Researchers led by Dr. Faiyaz Notta discover new subtypes of advanced pancreatic cancer based on their molecular features, opening new opportunities for therapeutic development.
Drs. Gelareh Zadeh and Daniel De Carvalho apply a newly developed non-invasive blood test to diagnose brain cancers, which sets the stage for its application in other solid tumours.
A team led by Dr. Naoto Hirano develop a comprehensive way to map the ability of cell surface molecules on cancer cells to serve as immunotherapy targets.