Dr. Carman Giacomantonio
Stopping Cancer At Its Source:
Dr. Carman Giacomantonio, a surgical oncologist, works long hours removing tumours from cancer patients. This work has inspired him to team up with world-renowned cancer researcher Dr. Patrick Lee to explore a revolutionary new way to fight cancer at its source.
The researchers made headlines around the world in 2009 with their discovery that the human reovirus effectively targets and kills breast cancer stem cells. Cancer stem cells are mother cells that keep churning out new cancer cells. They cannot be killed by traditional radiation and chemotherapy treatments, so the discovery that human reovirus can destroy these cells is a monumental achievement.
“Cancer stem cells are really at the heart of recurrence. No matter how many ordinary cancer cells are removed by surgery or destroyed by chemo or radiation, there is a serious danger the cancer will come back because the cancer stem cells remain,” says Dr. Giacomantonio
Getting To Know The Enemy:
Dr. Lee and Dr. Giacomantonio are studying how cancer stem cells work. “The more we know about the enemy, the better equipped we are to defeat it,” notes Dr. Giacomantonio. “We would like to find a way to target reovirus to cancer stem cells, to stop cancer’s growth at the source.”
Dr. Giacomantonio is also attracting international attention for his discovery that core needle biopsies may lead to metastasis in breast cancer, by moving cancer cells from the primary tumour into nearby lymph nodes. This is a common diagnostic procedure which Dr. Giacomantonio aims to make safer by learning how it leads to metastasis and finding ways to prevent this from happening.
In 2009 the Molly Appeal raised funds to purchase Atlantic Canada’s first RNAi Library. This facility will give researchers 70,000 genetic tools they can use to determine the function of every gene in a cell. The 2013 Molly Appeal for cancer research will help purchase a Live-cell Imaging Facility.