Plateforme pour l’enrichissement des cellules tumorales circulantes (CTC) pour la caractérisation et la sensibilité à des médicaments anticancéreux


Competition: EXPLORE Program 2012
Funding: $300,000 / 2 years


The major challenge in cancer therapy is to stop its progression to more advanced stages (metastasis) where the disease becomes resistant to most forms of therapeutic interventions. Understanding the mechanisms leading to metastasis is only beginning to emerge and is key to develop specific therapeutic interventions. Another complicating factor in cancer therapy is the diversity of cancer cells within a tumor, also called “heterogeneity” that makes it difficult to optimize therapeutic regimen in individual patients, also referred to as “personalized medicine”. Recent advances have uncovered novel ways to diagnose, follow and potentially treat cancer using a unique therapeutic target known as circulating tumors cells (CTCs). These cells are shed from the primary tumor or its metastatic sites and recapitulate many of the features of tumor heterogeneity. Importantly, CTCs number follow closely the progression or regression of the disease making them ideal candidates for developing personalized therapeutic regimens. However, CTCs circulate in very low number making it difficult to study them using standard blood test procedures. Recently, we have developed a novel approach to isolate CTCs in large numbers from a series of breast cancer patients by a procedure called aphaeresis. Furthermore, we have banked these live cells at ultralow temperature and intend to study them in detail. We plan to develop a standardized methodology to test their response to a variety of chemotherapeutic agents in view of developing personalized therapeutic regimen. Finally, the proposed approach could be applied to a variety of cancer types in the near future.

Richard Kremer

McGill University


Catalin Mihalcioiu
McGill University Health Center


Kendra Hightower
Senior manager,
GlaxoSmithKline RTP, NC

Bonnie Howell
Senior Scientific Director,
Merck Research Laboratories

Steven Pirie-Shepherd
Senior Manager,
Pfizer San Diego, CA

Sau-Chi Betty Yan
Research Fellow,
Cancer Biology & Patient Tailoring Eli Lilly