According to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada, lymphomas are one of the most common malignancies affecting ~8,900 Canadians per year. Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma (CTCL) is the most common lymphoma of the skin. Unfortunately, it remains difficult to diagnose this cancer since it can often masquerade as other common skin conditions (such as chronic eczemas and psoriasis). It is also difficult to prognosticate this disease.
In addition, in recent months I have embarked on studying the use of oncolytic viruses for the treatment of Non-Melanoma Skin Cancers (NMSC). These cancers affect ~1 in 5 Canadians and most individuals develop more than one NMSC in their life time. Oncolytic viruses represent a truly novel approach to treat and potentially help prevent these cancers in people.
The overarching objective of my research is to improve diagnosis and provide personalized medical management of CTCL by A) developing a novel diagnostic/prognostic molecular test that would help distinguish this cancer from benign mimickers and help identify ~20-30% of stage I patients who are at risk of aggressive disease, B) investigating geographic clustering patterns for this rare skin cancer in order to identify a potential external preventable trigger(s) for this cancer, C) establishing a system to fast-track Quebec patients with established or suspected diagnosis of CTCL to the nearest university-based multidisciplinary clinic in the province and D) investigating on a molecular level novel pathways of how this cancer develops.
Furthermore, as highlighted above, a critical goal of my work is to investigate new approaches using oncolytic viruses to treat NMSCs and potentially other skin cancers in patients.