Name, GCRC

A gift from BRIGIL led to the identification of genes involved in the predisposition to colitis-induced colorectal cancer

In 2009, Mr. Gilles Desjardins, president and CEO of a Gatineau construction company named BRIGIL decided to offer a substantial gift of $25,000 to the research team headed by Drs. Nicole Beauchemin and Philippe Gros to pursue their work on the identification of colorectal cancer (CRC) genes that predispose patients to the development of this cancer.  This gift complemented a grant obtained and renewed from the Cancer Research Society. 

In 2009, Drs. Beauchemin and Gros had identified a large region comprising 150 genes on mouse chromosome 3 that conferred CRC susceptibility.  Subsequently, this region was narrowed down to 12 genes (identified as the Ccs3 locus) including the NfkB gene that is well known for its involvement in cancer development.  The NfkB gene in the susceptible mice contained an extra region with a convoluted structure relative to that present in the mice resistant to CRC development and we subsequently showed that a cell type of the immune system (macrophages) was dysfunctional in the susceptible mice.  This indicated that macrophages were not able to adequately destroy the cancer cells arising in susceptible mice.  Together with Dr. Tom Hudson of the OICR in Toronto, the Montreal team identified that certain CRC patient cohorts had the same deficiency.  This work was extended to the identification of loci and genes involved in predisposition to colitis-induced CRC development.  This cancer is often observed in patients who develop Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.  This project is still ongoing.

This gift was pivotal in offering two doctoral students the opportunity to complete their doctoral work and publish their findings.  It also funded the summer stipends for two undergraduate students on research projects aimed at identifying colitis-associated CRC predisposing genes.  We are extremely grateful to Mr. Desjardins for his donation and encourage other donors to support basic research projects.  Basic research gets translated to the clinic and SAVES PATIENTS' LIVES.