We Cross Cancer builds hope for patient treatment

May 13, 2022 / Insight from J. Angus Watt, Senior Wealth Advisor

We cross cancer together, Edmonton’s Cross Cancer Institute Campaign visual

Almost one in every two Albertans will develop cancer in their lifetime. Thanks to innovative research and treatment options – many pioneered at Edmonton’s Cross Cancer Institute – the survival rate from a cancer diagnosis continues to rise, and that’s good news. But there is so much more that needs to be done to increase those survival rates, and its starts with research and clinical trials of promising treatments.

In that light, I am pleased to co-chair – along with Cory Janssen, Co-CEO and co-founder of AltaML – a $30 million fundraising campaign for our Cross Cancer Institute, We Cross Cancer , to support ongoing and new research with the goal of doubling the number of cancer treatment clinical trials from 500 today to 1000 or more in next few years, giving more people the chance to become cancer-free.

Like many Edmontonians, my relationship with the Cross Cancer Institute is personal. My wife, Heather, was diagnosed with cancer years ago, and we walked the cancer journey together with the doctors, medical and research teams. Today, she serves as a Trustee on the Alberta Cancer Foundation.

Nearly everyone we talk with about their cancer experience mentions the compassionate care and treatment they received, which is so important to a successful outcome. The backbone of that care is the work of some of the brightest medical and research minds anywhere, asking the big questions, working together, revolutionizing cancer treatments and changing lives for the better right here at the Cross Cancer Institute.

Much of this ground-breaking advancement are the result of clinical trials – research studies performed with real patients to figure out if a new treatment, drug, device, or procedure is both safe and effective. They provide valuable hope for people facing cancer, not just in Edmonton or Alberta, but around the world.

And that what this fundraising campaign is about, building HOPE for a better future, cancer-free.

Across Canada, about eight percent of cancer patients participate in clinical trials. At the Cross Cancer Institute that number is nearly double – at 14%, and through this fundraising effort we want to expand that leadership even further.

We will achieve this by funding:

  • the creation of a specialized clinical trials unit – where physicians and clinical teams can provide optimal care for patients in clinical trials
  • the expansion of the cancer pharmacy – the pharmacy, which mixes and dispenses the preparations for each cancer patient, needs to grow to meet the demands of expanded clinical trials
  • the creation of virtual care hubs – currently, many Cross Cancer Institute patients travel to Edmonton for treatment. Virtual care hubs will allow many patients to receive treatment close to home, with the support of their family and local health care staff they know, while benefitting from the world-class expertise and programs available at the Cross.
  • ongoing innovation and research – taking it from “bench to bedside”

The Cross Cancer Institute is already home to some of the world’s top researchers and clinicians. Expanding clinical trials and enhancing patient care through a dedicated unit at the Cross Cancer Institute will help provide global cancer solutions developed here in Edmonton.

One example of the ground-breaking work this campaign will support is the clinical trial on CAR T-cell therapy, a type of immunotherapy where the patient’s own infection-fighting T-cells are  modified and enhanced to detect and attack cancer cells when re-introduced into the patient’s body. Dr. Michael Chu, a medical oncologist, is running a trial to treat 57 adult and pediatric patients with relapsed leukemia and lymphoma using “point-of-care” CAR T-cell manufacturing to create the “living treatment” for each patient in the study, increasing the likelihood of success dramatically, while decreasing the cost of treatment by about 90% per patient.

There are many other innovative research projects and clinical trials underway or planned at the Cross Cancer Institute for a variety of different types of cancer – all with the same goal, providing patients with hope and a future that is cancer-free.

I am proud to support the Cross Cancer Institute and this We Cross Cancer campaign.

J. Angus Watt

Senior Wealth Advisor


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