Funding for Brain Cancer Research at UWindsor

A leading cancer researcher at the University of Windsor is getting support from the federal government.

A team led by Dr. Lisa Porter is getting more than $1-million over five years to help find a cure for glioblastoma, the type of brain cancer that killed Tragically Hip lead singer Gord Downie.

Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie (Anil Sharma/CTV)

Anil Sharma/CTV

Glioblastoma is a very aggressive form of cancer that doesn't respond to radiation or chemotherapy.

The project is called "Targeting Cell Cycle Checkpoints in Glioma" and Porter told AM800's The Afternoon News they're focused on the protein cells that are hardest to kill.

"Our expertise is looking at how do individual cells develop to become resistant to drugs and radiation," she says. "We've found molecular mechanisms that cells use to bypass these types of  traditional therapies."

Dr. Porter says the research is aimed at developing treatment to attack specific cells.

"We're finding ways with our collaborators to make drugs to specifically shut down those proteins, so in one way of speaking, it could be we're rapidly maturing those cells so that then they'll be susceptible to other types of therapy," she says.

Dr. Porter points out that the proteins they're focused on could be the key to finding a treatment or a cure.

"We know that they're important in keeping those really aggressive cells going," she says. "We're still working at a pre-clinical levels of using patient cells that we get from the clinic and then we put them into animal models, or into these three-dimensional sort of mimics of a brain that we've developed.

The funding will allow at least seven people in the lab to keep working on a solution but Porter adds that the research is in the very early stages and it'll be several years before it's ready for human testing.

The funding is part of a $275-million release of health-related research grants across Canada.