Advisory: Give yourself extra time when travelling by car to Toronto General Hospital, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, or Toronto Rehab University Centre. City of Toronto construction on University Ave. may cause delays.
At UHN, we strive to deliver Compassionate Care & Caring. Learn more about the services and supports that are available to you throughout your journey.
Our UHN programs and services are among the most advanced in the world. We have grouped our physicians,
staff, services and resources into 10 medical programs to meet the needs of our patients and help us make
the most of our resources.
At the heart of everything we do at UHN are our Healthcare Professionals. Refer a patient to one of our 12 medical programs. Learn more about the resources and opportunities available for professional growth.
University Health Network has grown to be one of the largest research and teaching hospital networks in Canada - pioneers in improving the lives of patients. Our long history of health professions education at Toronto General, Toronto Western, Princess Margaret and Toronto Rehab hospitals has consistently advanced the science of education.
University Health Network is a health care and medical research organization in
Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The scope of research and complexity of cases at UHN has made us a national and international
source for discovery, education and patient care.
Being touched by illness affects us in different ways. Many people want to give back to the community
and help others. At UHN, we welcome your contribution and offer different ways you can help so you can find one that suits you.
The Newsroom is the source for media looking for information about UHN or trying to connect with one
of our experts for an interview. It's also the place to find UHN media policies and catch up on our news stories, videos, media releases,
podcasts and more.
Toronto (July 3, 2012) - A team of international scientists led by principal investigator Dr. Tak Mak at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network, has identified a causative link between the product of a mutated metabolic enzyme and the onset of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), one of the most common types of leukemia in adults.
Called an "oncometabolite" for its role in cancer metabolism, the metabolite2-hydroxyglutarate (2HG) is a by-product of a gene mutation of an enzyme known as isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH).
Says Dr. Tak Mak of the findings published today in Nature: "For the first time, we have demonstrated how a metabolite can cause cancer. This sets the stage for developing inhibitors to block the mutation and prevent the production of this disease-initiating enzyme." The research team included scientists at Weill Cornell Medical College, New York City, and Agios Pharmaceuticals, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Dr. Mak, Director, The Campbell Family Institute for Breast Cancer Research at Princess Margaret Hospital, is an internationally acclaimed immunologist renowned for his 1984 discovery of cloning the human T-cell receptor. He is also Professor, University of Toronto, in the Departments of Medical Biophysics and Immunology.
The connection between cancer and metabolism has fascinated scientists at Agios and Dr. Mak, who were the first to identify the oncometabolite in research published in Nature (2009) and The Journal of Experimental Medicine (2010). The IDH gene mutation was initially discovered in brain cancers in 2008 by American scientists at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and subsequently also linked to leukemia.
In the lab, Dr. Mak's team genetically engineered a mouse model with the mutation in its blood system to mimic human AML. They discovered that the gene mutation launches the perfect storm for the oncometabolite to trigger the blood system to increase the stem cells pool and reduce mature blood cells in the bone marrow. The resulting condition creates a situation with similarities to myelodysplastic syndrome – one of the precursors to this type of leukemia.
"This is one of the most common mutations in AML," says Dr. Mak. "We also found that it is the common mutation in about 40% of a specific type of lymphoma." The mutation is also known to be involved in about 70-90% of low-grade brain cancers (glioblastomas gliomas) and a variety of other cancers.
Dr. Mak's interest in the blood system began as a young researcher three decades ago with Drs. Ernest McCulloch and James Till, the acclaimed "fathers of stem cell science" at Ontario Cancer Institute, the research arm of Princess Margaret Hospital, whose 1961 discovery of stem cells launched the new field.
Dr. Mak's research was funded by grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the Terry Fox Foundation. Dr. Mak's research is also supported by The Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation.
Princess Margaret Hospital and Ontario Cancer Institute, the hospital's research arm, have achieved an international reputation as global leaders in the fight against cancer. The Princess Margaret Cancer Centre is part of University Health Network, which also includes Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital and Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. All are research hospitals affiliated with the University of Toronto. For more information, go to www.theprincessmargaret.ca.
Phone: 416 340 4636