Project summary: Enabling Studies Program



September 1, 2015 to September 30, 2020




  • Develops two new platforms for precisely delivering anti-cancer drugs and radiation therapy using antibodies as a delivery mechanism.
  • Employs BioCanRx expertise in the development of novel therapeutic antibodies and antibody-drug conjugates.
  • Advances Canadian innovation that combines biotherapeutics with radiotherapy and imaging.





Antibodies have the ability to bind to specific proteins found on cancer cells and thus, can target cancer with incredible accuracy. Many tumour-targeted antibodies can be used to disrupt tumour function by interfering with a cell surface receptor, or may flag the cancer cell for destruction by the immune system. Tumour-binding antibodies that don’t have an anti-cancer effect on their own can be engineered to precisely deliver a payload that is toxic to cancer cells. Antibodies armed with drugs, called antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs), can deliver cancer-killing compounds directly to the cancer cell, requiring less drug and potentially resulting in a more potent effect. Alternatively, this toxic payload might be a radioisotope, which can precisely deliver radiation therapy in much the same way. By directly targeting cancer cells, both radio-immuno conjugates (RICs) and ADCs can result in less negative side effects and better outcomes, as compared to traditional chemo and radiation therapy. Another benefit of the use of radio-immuno conjugates is that they can be used for improved imaging of a patient’s cancer.
The project team, led by Dr. Steven Jones, will analyze cancer genome data from the Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre to identify and validate six new antibody targets that are specific to cancer. Under the guidance of Dr. Jones, the team will then create ADCs that combine the identified antibodies with pancratistatin, a plant-derived compound shown to selectively kill cancer cells. Lastly, the team will explore the suitability of the antibodies for combination with radioisotopes for imaging and therapeutic purposes.




  • Dr. Steven Jones, BC Cancer Agency, University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University (Lead for overall project; Lead for Project 1 – Bioinformatics)
  • Dr. François Bénard, BC Cancer Agency, University of British Columbia (Lead for Project 3 – Radio-immuno conjugates)
  • Dr. Gregg Morin, BC Cancer Agency, University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University
  • Dr. Kuo-Shyan Lin, BC Cancer Agency, University of British Columbia
  • Dr. Paul Schaffer, Triumf
  • Dr. Tomas Hudlicky, Brock University



Keywords: antibodies, antibody-drug conjugate, ADC, theranostics, radioimmunotherapy, radio-immuno conjugate, diagnostic imaging, pancratistatin, RICs, radioimmuno-conjugate, radioimmunoconjugate
Eligible cancers: to be determined by study
Partners: Terry Fox Research Institute