A path to new treatment through existing medicine.

Noël Raynal,

“For the first time in history, we can target cancer cells while sparing the patient’s healthy cells. This means we can develop more effective and less toxic new treatments.”

Dr. Noël Raynal and his team at CHU Sainte-Justine in Montreal are looking at how drugs used to treat patients with heart failure can also protect patients from cancer.

Cancer prevention, earlier detection, and more effective treatments; it all begins with research. Dr. Noël Raynal, a research at CHU Sainte-Justine and a professor at Université de Montréal, is one researcher whose project is exploring more effective ways to treat leukemia by repurposing a drug commonly used to treat cardiac disease. 

Noël’s work is funded by the Cancer Research Society as part of their unique UpCycle program, which explores new ways to treat cancers using existing drugs. Because these drugs are already approved and often commonly in use for the treatment of other illnesses, repurposing a drug can be done is half the time needed to develop a new drug. This means that the repurposed drug can get to the patient’s bedside approximately seven years more quickly.  

Noël and his team’s research are 1 out of 5 projects to have received an UpCycle grant over the last year, and their discoveries look promising. “Our results, published in an international scientific journal, show for the first time the potential of a drug generally used to treat cardiac diseases to also treat aggressive leukemia,” Noël says.

Now that the drug has demonstrated effectiveness against leukemia, the next step is to begin evaluating this new therapeutic approach through clinical trial. For Noël, the UpCycle program and his team’s work is one more example of the new and exciting progress being made in cancer research. “The current technological advances in sequencing and in drug development are fascinating,” he notes. “For the first time in history, we can target cancer cells while sparing the patient’s healthy cells. This means we can develop more effective and less toxic new treatments.” Research on drug repurposing, through work like Noël’s, opens up a vital path towards innovative treatment options targeted towards specific cancers. 

From Noël’s perspective, the rapid pace of progress in this area would not be possible without funding from the Cancer Research Society, and the generosity of their supporters. 

“The support we receive gives us the means to better understand and, especially, better treat all types of cancer,” he says. “By supporting programs like UpCycle, donations help boost the efforts of research teams reaching for the treatments of the future. On behalf of the patients and their families, a heartfelt thank you to donors for helping us go further.”

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