Dr. Shantanu Banerji

Structural changes or mutations in cancer genes have been identified as one of the causes of cancer. Common examples include gene amplification of the ERBB2 gene in 30% of breast cancers, EGFR gene mutations in 10% of North American lung cancer cases, and KIT mutations in occurring in over 70% of cases of a particular sarcoma subtype known as gastrointestinal stromal cancer. These mutations are particularly significant because they have led to the development of 'targeted' therapies, where a drug is designed to stop the growth of cancer cells with the specific gene abnormality, while sparing normal cells. This leads to therapy that not only prolongs survival, but reduces the toxicity of therapy.

The goal of my laboratory is to identify new gene targets in cancer using next generation DNA sequencing technology. We aim to characterize the rates of specific cancer associated mutations in the Manitoba population using resources like breast and lung cancer from the Manitoba Tumour Bank. We also analyze cancer tissue obtained from patients being treated at CancerCare Manitoba to try and identify targeted therapies that may be more effective for their cancer treatment. This is essential as we move towards more personalized therapy for all patients with cancer.

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