Canada Cancer and Aging Research Laboratory (CCARL) Launched in Lethbridge to Provide Personalized Diagnostic and Medical Solutions for Cancer and Age-Related Diseases

Share Article

Canada Cancer and Aging Research Laboratory (CCARL) launched in Lethbridge to provide personalized diagnostic and medical solutions for cancer treatment and to develop diagnostic criteria and therapeutic approaches to combat age-related diseases and aging itself.

Canada Cancer and Aging Research Laboratory (CCARL) today announced the launch of its personalized medicine and research programs in Canada. The company plans to unfold its operations in two phases, working in the areas of a personalized medical approach for cancer treatment and combating aging and age-related diseases. During the first phase, the company aims to develop its partnership with Pathway Pharmaceuticals in Hong Kong to offer the OncoFinder (TM) technology in Canada. The OncoFinder (TM) system is a new revolutionary platform used to improve decision-making in personalized medicine of cancer and to increase the chances of selecting the right therapy for each patient. The platform maps the gene expression data from an individual patient’s tumor biopsy or a paraffin block onto a set of intracellular signaling pathways, measures the activation state of each individual pathway, and uses the activation signature of the resulting signaling pathway to predict the efficacy of various chemotherapy regiments and targeted drugs.

"CCARL draws on the strengths of its founders, Drs. Olga and Igor Kovalchuk, Professors and group leaders at the University of Lethbridge, who have established a solid reputation in genetic and epigenetic research of cancer and have been very instrumental in establishing and operating the next generation sequencing platform in Lethbridge. “We decided to go into business with the CCARL team because of their outstanding productivityand solid expertize," said Anton Buzdin, PhD, DSc, CEO of Pathway Pharmaceuticals, Ltd, in Hong Kong.

Over the past several decades, progress in biomedical sciences resulted in the development of many targeted drugs and chemotherapy regiments that work very well in certain patient groups, often resulting in the extended periods of remission or a complete cure. However, these therapeutic regiments are usually very expensive and often work in limited patient groups causing unnecessary and toxic treatments that degrade patients’ health and even encourage cancer to progress. Just as no two people are similar, no two cancers are alike, and there is a lot of variation even within the same tumor. Therefore, ideal therapeutic regiments targeting every cancer cell in the body must be tailored individually for each patient. Unlike many other methods, the OncoFinder system allows scientists to make better sense of the genetic background of each individual patient’s tumor, to compare it to the healthy state and rank the selected therapies by their predicted effectiveness.

In the second phase of operations, the company will develop tools for personalized medicine of other age-related diseases, including multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. The company plans to develop an analogue of OncoFinder that will consider the tissue-specific epigenetic changes in disease and aging processes for both disease treatment and prevention.

Co-founders of the company, Drs. Olga and Igor Kovalchuk, completed their post-doctoral work at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research and Novartis (Basel, Switzerland) where they worked as visiting fellows and postdocs. For the past 20 years, Drs. Kovalchuks have been working in the area of genetics and epigenetics of genome stability and DNA repair.

Olga’s expertise and vision of aging research was well received recently at the “Practical Applications of Aging Research for Drug Development Aging” forum, a part of MipTec 2014, Europe’s largest drug discovery conference in Basel, Switzerland where she gave a talk titled “Applied Epigenetics of Aging and Longevity."

“Many cancer and aging pathways are interrelated, and the understanding of the interplay between pathologic and defensive pathways at the tissue-specific level is essential for developing effective interventions. We have decided to start with a reliable tool that we believe works well for predicting the efficacy of chemotherapy for individual patients and then to extrapolate this approach to other age-related diseases. In addition to selecting a perfect treatment for each individual patient, we want to develop personalized preventative regiments that would minimize the risk of cancer, other age-related diseases, and aging itself. We are researchers at heart and will continue working hard in academia. But instead of relying purely on government funding, we would like to use commercial funding for helping physicians make better clinical decisions and increase their patients’ life spans," said Olga Kovalchuk, CEO of CCARL.

Canada Cancer and Aging Research Laboratory (CCARL) is, the Alberta-based company in Lethbridge aiming to accelerate progress in personalized medicine of cancer and other age-related diseases. The company has licensed the OncoFinder platform to provide decision-support services to physicians and clinical institutions looking for improving the outcomes and reducing the costs associated with cancer treatment therapy. The company is also developing tools for personalized medicine of various age-related diseases and aging itself.


Olga Kovalchuk, MD, PhD
olga.kovalchuk(at)ccarl(dot)ca /403 394 3916

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Olga Kovalchuk
+1 4033943916
Email >
Visit website