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An investment of $150M over the next five years from Health Canada for the Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres network will accelerate precision medicine to benefit cancer patients across Canada.  

The funding announced today by the government will be matched by the network's partners, which includes Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. Led by the Terry Fox Research Institute (TFRI), the cancer centres will work together to share data, resources and knowledge across Canada for the first time.

The goal is to achieve Terry Fox's dream of a world without cancer and to accelerate the implementation of precision medicine so that Canadian patients can access the right treatment at the right time for their particular cancer, no matter where they live. 

"We are thrilled to have the Minister of Health share this great news today and want to thank the Government of Canada for its leadership in making this investment and for this vote of confidence," said Dr. Victor Ling, TFRI president and scientific director.

"Under this new Terry Fox research network, centres and researchers will form the Team Canada of Cancer Research, sharing knowledge, harnessing technology and championing collaboration for the benefit of cancer patients from coast to coast to coast."

The research network was first launched by the TFRI on April 12, 2019 in St. John's Newfoundland on the 39th anniversary of Terry Fox's Marathon of Hope to cure cancer.

"We are excited to participate in the Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres network – a new partnership with the Terry Fox Research Institute and our clinical and research partners across Canada –  which will keep Terry's dream alive for newer, targeted and more effective treatments for cancer patients," said Dr. Brad Wouters, executive vice-president of science and research at the University Health Network and senior scientist at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.

"The Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres network will accelerate the adoption of more effective precision medicine cancer therapies through new approaches to capture, share, and learn from molecular, imaging and patient-specific big data. Only a concerted, huge push from all us within a collaborative Marathon of Hope network will help us achieve this."     

An artificial intelligence (AI) platform and collaborative approach will link researches across Canada to share and analyze enormous amounts of genomic and clinical data, and apply new technologies such as genomics, advanced imaging, big data and artificial intelligence to find new and better ways to treat cancer patients.

The hope is that this level of cellular and molecular precision will help decide which treatments a patient's tumour responds best to, sparing a patient from undergoing ineffective ones.   

Specifically, this approach will help scientists tackle the vexing challenges of sensitivity and resistance to treatment by understanding the constantly changing molecular and cellular features of a tumour and its microenvironment.   

Five regional consortia, representing cancer research and care institutions in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, the Prairies and Atlantic Canada, are expected to participate in the network once fully operational.

A key network deliverable is the creation of a 15,000 high-quality sharable dataset of cancer cases completed by 2023.

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