Dr. Brad Nelson shows off the new Conconi Family Immunotherapy Lab at the B.C. Cancer Agency's Deeley Research Centre in Victoria.

New cancer treatment centre a game changer for patients

It’s something Dr. Brad Nelson has been dreaming about for years.

It’s something Dr. Brad Nelson has been dreaming about for years.

After working in the immunotherapy industry for two decades and seeing the success of roughly 20 to 30 other labs around the world, Nelson was hoping to bring the latest in immunotherapy treatment to patients in British Columbia.

Now, those dreams have become reality with the opening of the Conconi Family Immunotherapy Lab at the B.C. Cancer Agency’s Deeley Research Centre.

Scientists will use the roughly 500-square-foot “clean room” to focus on Adoptive T cell therapy, a specific form of immunotherapy that amplifies the power of T cells — immune cells responsible for destroying viruses and tumours — extracted from an individual cancer patient.

Scientists identify the T cells already attempting to destroy the cancer, grow an army of immune cells in the lab, and supercharge them to recognize the patient’s tumour, which are then delivered through an IV infusion.

The treatment will be used on patients who have tried other forms of treatment, such as chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, but were unsuccessful.

“To have all of this interest in the field and the ability to raise funds, build a clean room, and all these things is something I’ve personally been dreaming about for years and suddenly it’s all a green light. I couldn’t ask for more,” said Nelson, who’s the director of the Deely Research Centre.

“This is a game changer because we’re talking about using the patient’s own immune system to treat their cancer. That has a lot of appeal to patients as a starting point . . . most exciting is it’s actually starting to work.”

The Robert L. Conconi Foundation, for whom the lab is named after, helped raise $2 million to help build the lab. The rest of the funds came from more than 5,900 donors across the province and other fundraisers over the past year.

“It’s extraordinary for us, but more importantly it’s extraordinary for British Columbia and the community on the Island who funded it,” said Sarah Roth, president and CEO of the B.C. Cancer Foundation.

“What this represents is hope for patients with cancer in a way that’s never been talked about before . . . it demonstrates how our community is rallying behind the prospect of science and the need for philanthropy to drive innovation.”

Phase one, which includes clinical trials for ovarian and cervical cancer, are slated to begin in early 2017, with plans to launch other trials in lymphoma, prostate, and pancreatic cancer in the future.

 

 

Just Posted

Victoria landmarks to glow red in honour of World Tuberculosis Day

1,600 new cases of active TB reported in Canada every year

Victoria bowler strikes gold at World Special Olympics Games

Hours of training at Langford Lanes paved the way to gold for Patrick Reid

Colwood discusses parcel tax to help pay for sewer repair and replacement

Report submitted to committee recommends parcel tax for all residents

UPDATE: Missing 12-year-old girl found

Victora police say missing youth has been found and is safe

Protective human chain forms around Victoria mosque for Friday prayer

Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

Fire crews battle large blaze at Courtenay hostel

Courtenay Fire Chief Don Bardonnex said nobody was injured

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

Wildlife activists slam B.C. business, clubs for ‘wolf-whacking’ contests

Chilcotin Guns, Creston Valley Rod and Gun Club and West Kootenay Outdoorsmen Club under fire

Most Read