Newswise — Toronto (September 6, 2017) – Understanding a cancer’s genetics is key to selecting targeted therapies that are likely to be of the most benefit to a patient. The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) today announced a new study, called Ontario-wide Cancer TArgeted Nucleic Acid Evaluation (OCTANE). OCTANE will use next-generation genome sequencing technology to bring a unified molecular profiling approach to five Ontario cancer centres.

This new study will allow for the creation of a province-wide database of the participating patients’ genomic and clinical data that can help them find approved treatments, or to enrol in experimental targeted therapies that are being evaluated through clinical trials. By sharing data across the five sites, OCTANE will also help to inform the development of future treatments and research studies.

“This study is a great example of how Ontario’s strength in cancer research is directly improving cancer care in the province,” says Reza Moridi, Ontario’s Minister of Research, Innovation and Science. “Further, the insights into cancer gained from this study will fuel more research and made-in-Ontario innovations.”

“This initiative shows how Ontario’s cancer research community is working together to advance innovative technologies and concepts into the clinic to benefit patients,” says Dr. Lincoln Stein, Head of Adaptive Oncology at OICR. “OICR is proud to support OCTANE and work with our partners to accelerate cancer research.” 

OCTANE is now open at five Ontario cancer centres: Juravinski Cancer Centre (Hamilton), Kingston Health Sciences Centre, London Health Sciences Centre, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre (PM) (Toronto) and The Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre. The study is open to patients already being treated for advanced solid tumours at one of the participating study sites who have undergone no more than two previous attempts at treating their cancer and who meet the other criteria for entry into the study.

Janet, a patient with colon cancer, participated in a clinical trial at PM in which she was matched to an experimental drug based on her cancer’s genomic profile. “Access to this experimental treatment through the clinical trial has so far given me three extra years,” she says. “I was very happy to hear that more patients in Ontario may have an experience like mine through OCTANE and the access to genomic sequencing it provides.” Studies such as Janet’s, and OCTANE, provide researchers with information about genomic profiling that may help other patients in the future.

“This study is strengthening cancer care in Ontario by helping to facilitate the selection of the best treatment option for participants should they require it following standard therapies. By bringing more genomic sequencing to the clinic we are empowering patients and clinicians through the information we provide,” says Dr. Philippe Bedard, a medical oncologist at PM, who is the co-Principal Investigator of the OCTANE study. “In addition, the establishment of a resource of patient samples and information will accelerate the development of new clinical tools that are essential to adapting treatment to the specifics of a tumour." 

The resource created by the collection of blood and tissue samples from study participants can be used to help scientists develop the next generation of genomic biomarkers. Biomarkers are measurable biological indicators within the body that can be used to diagnose a disease, assess its state and/or measure the effects of treatment. They form the foundation of clinical tests that provide doctors with important information about normal or disease states. The biomarkers developed with the aid of OCTANE data will improve the ability of clinicians to select the best treatment for patients with cancer, based on the unique profile of their tumour.

A selection of OCTANE participant samples will undergo additional analysis at the PM-OICR Translational Genomics Laboratory, which is a new advanced research facility established to expand the use of genomics and other forms of molecular profiling in the clinic. Insights from analyses conducted on these samples will be provided to researchers at the five OCTANE study sites to inform the development of future clinical trials.

More information for patients and oncologists is available at: 


About OICR

The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) is a collaborative, not-for-profit research institute focused on accelerating the translation of new cancer research discoveries to patients around the world while maximizing the economic benefit of this research for the people of Ontario. Funding for OICR is provided by the Government of Ontario.

For more information, please contact:

Hal Costie
Senior Communications Officer Ontario Institute for Cancer Research
[email protected]