LLSC Researchers - Chercheurs de la SLLC
Amount Raised:
Fundraising Goal $175,000.00

Bruce Lee

is participating on October 24, 2020 to fight blood cancers



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Welcome to our Light The Night team page! 

With no end in sight, the pandemic has shut down more than 600 cancer research trials as the country went into lockdown, and researchers have yet to return to their labs and resume work at full capacity. As cancer research funds get reallocated to COVID-19 studies, testing and treatment, the stalled momentum of blood cancer research will likely leave deep scars on cancer care. 

Dr. Florian Kuchenbauer, a blood cancer researcher in British Columbia is leading a newly formed Researcher Super Team – a group of scientists from across the country that have come together to help raise funds and advocate for the critical need to support blood cancer research in Canada. They are the leading experts in the field with active studies that aim to prevent, detect and treat blood cancers. 

Funds raised through the Research Super Team will contribute to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada’s annual flagship event, Light The Night. Each year, more than 35,000 Canadians in communities across the country participate in Light The Night to raise funds for research and critical programs and services that help support Canadians at every step of their blood cancer experience. 

Tired of COVID-19 calling the shots? The Researcher Super Team is fighting for an opportunity to advance existing research and develop new therapies for Canadians affected by a blood cancer. You too can make a difference. Show your support to the Researcher Super Team and give what you can. 


Bienvenue sur la page Illumine la nuit de notre équipe! 

En cette période de pandémie dont on n’entrevoit pas la fin, plus de 600 centres de recherche sur le cancer ont interrompu leurs activités en raison du confinement, et les chercheurs n’ont toujours pas regagné leurs laboratoires ni repris leur travail à plein régime. Alors que les fonds consacrés à la recherche sur le cancer sont réaffectés aux études, aux tests et aux traitements liés à la COVID-19, cette pause forcée dans la recherche sur les cancers du sang risque de laisser de profondes cicatrices dans le domaine des soins du cancer. 

Le Dr Florian Kuchenbauer, chercheur spécialisé dans les cancers du sang en Colombie-Britannique, dirige la nouvelle équipe « Les chercheurs de la SLLC » – un groupe de scientifiques de partout au pays qui ont uni leurs forces en vue d’amasser des fonds et de faire valoir l’importance critique du soutien à la recherche sur les cancers du sang au Canada. Les membres du groupe sont des sommités dans leur domaine, et ils mènent des études actives visant à prévenir, à détecter et à traiter les cancers du sang.

Les fonds recueillis par « Les chercheurs de la SLLC » permettront d’appuyer l’événement annuel phare de la Société de leucémie et lymphome du Canada : Illumine la nuit. Chaque année, plus de 35 000 Canadiens issus de communautés d’un bout à l’autre du pays participent à Illumine la nuit en vue d’amasser des fonds destinés à financer des projets de recherche ainsi que des programmes et des services cruciaux qui aident les Canadiens à chaque étape de leur combat contre le cancer du sang.

Vous en avez assez que la COVID-19 occulte tout le reste? La Researcher Super Team s’évertue à faire avancer la recherche en cours et à mettre au point de nouveaux traitements pour les Canadiens touchés par un cancer du sang. Vous aussi, vous pouvez apporter une contribution. Manifestez votre soutien à la « Les chercheurs de la SLLC » et donnez ce que vous pouvez.


Dr. Florian Kuchenbauer
BC Cancer Agency 
Vancouver, British Columbia

The goal of Dr. Kuchenbauer’s team is to improve the treatment of patients with hematological diseases. Their work is driven by analysing clinical factors and outcomes to improve local patient treatments as well as taking advantage of preclinical animal models to better understand the physiology of normal and malignant hematopoiesis.

Dr. Versha Banerji
Cancer Care Manitoba
Winnipeg, MB

Cancer cells, specifically chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells are charged with energy when compared to normal B-lymphocytes. Dr. Banerji’s lab has identified that certain markers on the leukemia cells, such as one called ZAP 70, predicts which cells have higher energy levels. However, it is not known what factors outside the cell or within the cells actually alter ZAP 70 to change the energy status of the cell. Dr. Banerji believes that learning this information is important for two main reasons: 1) It could be used to predict what doses of new drugs may best be used for patients to ensure they are working without side effects, and 2) Inform us how drugs should be combined together to avoid side effects while maximizing the effect of treatment. By determining how to best assess energy changes in cancer cells under certain conditions, we can best learn about how different drugs “drain the batteries” of the leukemia cells.

Dr. Jason Berman
Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario
Ottawa, Ontario

Dr. Jason Berman is a pioneer in using the zebrafish model to study leukemia and other blood disorders. Remarkably, these small tropical fish have similar genetics and blood systems to humans, which is very humbling. Because they reproduce externally and their larvae are transparent, the zebrafish provides a “window” into normal blood development. Genetic manipulation enables the ability to introduce cancer-causing genes into the zebrafish to generate models of human leukemia. Additionally, human leukemia cells can be easily transplanted into zebrafish larvae without rejection and these cells grow and divide inside the fish, providing an opportunity to test drug responses simply by adding compounds to the water in which the fish are bathed. In this way, the zebrafish serves as a rapid and cost-effective initial platform for testing new treatments in the preclinical therapeutic pipeline. 

Dr. Fabio Contu
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is a blood cancer that affects the lymphatic system. Lymphatic cancer cells grow and form different masses at the level of the lymph nodes, which are located throughout our bodies in the lymphatic system. Although it is considered to be one of the most curable form of cancer, around 25% of the cases experience a relapse within the first 5 years of primary treatment. Our research focuses on the investigation of new lines of treatment based on targeting cancer cells DNA at the level of the telomeres. The telomeres, the end portion of the chromosomes, can be considered as the aging clocks of the cells, as in normal cells, they shorten with every cell division to a point where the cell is not able to divide anymore. One of the characteristics of the cancer cells, however, is their capability of dividing exponentially and uncontrolled. One of the reasons why cancer cells lack an endpoint to their division, is because they possess different tools to maintain telomere length. Our investigation demonstrated that the telomeres lengthening of cancer cells from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is regulated in two different ways: a) presence of the telomerase, the protein implicated in telomere replication, normally deactivated in mature normal cells; b) presence of the  Alternative Lengthening of Telomeres (ALT) pathway which maintains telomeres length through intrachromosomal recombination. As both pathways are present in Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, our research is focusing on using two different drugs, one targeting the telomerase and the other targeting the ALT pathway, to disrupt the ability to maintain the telomere length and induce cancer cells death.

Dr. Rodney DeKoter
University of Western Ontario
London, Ontario

The goal of Dr. Dekoter’s research is to identify genetic causes of diseases affecting the immune system, including leukemia. These diseases can be caused by mutation of genes encoding transcription factors. Dr. DeKoter is particularly interested in highly related transcription factors of the E26 transformation-specific (ETS) family called PU.1, Spi-B, and Spi-C. These proteins play diverse roles in regulating development and function of B lymphocytes and myeloid cells. 

Dr. Trang Hoang
Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC), Université de Montréal
Montréal, Québec

Dr Trang Hoang and her team identified pre-leukemic stem cells (LSC) in acute lymphoblastic leukemia and showed how these cells cause disease progression through the process of clonal evolution to become hyper-competitive and invasive leukemic cells. In 2010, her work received the Murray Margarit Memorial Award from the Leukemia Lymphoma Society of Canada for defining for the first time, the mechanism behind three cancer-causing genes in acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The findings offer novel insight on stemness properties and clonal evolution in leukemia, thereby providing the foundation for the design of more effective targeted therapies. In particular, the Hoang lab engineered a unique cellular model that closely reproduces acute lymphoblastic leukemia and identified drug-like compounds that efficiently target LSCs in their microenvironment.

Dr. Mani Larijani
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, BC

Dr. Larijani works on processes that mutate and alter the genetic codes of DNA/RNA. His laboratory is interested in various dimensions of DNA/RNA-mutating processes.  The overarching theme of our research is to understand their molecular/cellular mechanisms and biological impacts. Depending on the species, DNA/RNA-mutating processes have diverse biological functions ranging from modulating immune response, causing and exacerbating cancer, evolution of host and viral genomes, developmental reprogramming and tissue differentiation.

Dr. Sabine Mai
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Inside our cells our genes are arranged along twisted, double-stranded molecules of DNA called chromosomes. At the ends of the chromosomes are stretches of DNA called telomeres which protect our genetic data, make it possible for cells to divide, and hold some secrets to how we age and get cancer. Telomere length maintenance is critical for cell division and cell survival. Normally, when telomeres reach a critical length the cells stop dividing and start to deteriorate and die.  In Hodgkin’s lymphoma, however, the cells activate a protein called telomerase that maintains telomere length and prevents cell death.  Dr. Mai explores how Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (HL) cells maintain telomere length and then target their telomere maintenance pathways to prevent growth of cancer cells. She expects that treatments that target telomere maintenance pathways present in all cells of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma patients may alter the current treatment outcome of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Dr. Gilles Robichaud
Université de Moncton,
Moncton, New Brunswick

Inflammation is tightly linked with the development and progression of cancer. Amongst the inflammatory components participating in these processes are platelet cells. Platelets, initially discovered as clotting agents, are the second most abundant circulating blood cells in the human body. Interestingly, platelets also shed small vesicles (similar to escape pods) which package biologically active molecules. Dr. Robichaud’s team has recently identified a new type of these vesicles, termed mitoMPs. Preliminary results show that mitoMPs bind and get enveloped by leukemia cells to transfer their content (mitochondria). As a result, these cancer cells have greater viability and have increased resistance to cellular death. Dr. Robichaud and his team believe that mitoMPs represent important cancer modulators which will result in increased disease progression. He proposes to define the significance of mitoMPs in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and determine the disease mechanisms which will then allow for the development of new strategic therapeutic approaches. 

Dr. Guy Sauvageau
Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer (IRIC), University of Montréal
Montréal, Québec

The research work carried out in the Sauvageau lab focuses on the study of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Dr. Sauvageau’s research has led to major breakthroughs in the study of HSCs and AML, notably the identification of several epigenetic regulators in HSC self-renewal, the discovery of the UM171 molecule that promotes the expansion of human cord blood-derived HSCs, as well as the identification of multiple mutations, gene expression profiles and vulnerability to chemical agents for the various AML subgroups.

Dr. Aaron Schimmer
Princess Margaret Cancer Centre
Toronto, ON

Dr. Schimmer’s lab is interested in developing new therapeutic strategies for AML (acute myeloid leukemia) that effectively target leukemic stem cells. His LLSC-funded research focuses on studying TAK-243, a new drug that blocks the cell’s garbage disposal system. His work has shown TAK-243 kills AML cells in culture and mouse models while sparing normal cells. Dr. Schimmer’s lab will develop a laboratory-based test to determine whether TAK-243 can bind and inhibit its target. He will also investigate mechanisms by which cells become resistant to TAK-243 and will test new drug combinations that could enhance the ability of TAK-243 to kill AML cells while continuing to spare normal cells. Through these efforts, new biological pathways important for the growth and viability of AML will be discovered and highlight new therapeutic approaches for this disease.

Event Date
Jan 1, 2020 5:00 PM
Location Name
Virtual Walk
LLSC Researchers is affiliated with LLSC Researchers Super Team

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