A group of dedicated volunteers and donors, many of whom have lost loved ones to brain cancer, have added $929,000 to the grand total raised for research since they began their campaign in 2015.
The fifth edition of A Brilliant Night (ABN), which took place on Oct. 23, 2019 at Windsor Station, brought over 700 guests together to sample Montreal’s best food and drink as they learned about the groundbreaking research their money made possible.
Since its first edition, ABN has donated $4.25 million for research at The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital). It was created by a group of people who felt deeply about supporting and accelerating the development of the best possible treatments to combat brain cancer. They saw ABN as a meaningful way to support the work of The Neuro’s Dr. Kevin Petrecca, chief of the Department of Neurosurgery at the McGill University Health Centre.
Included amongst the earliest supporters of ABN are Marie-Claude Lacroix, who lost a son to brain cancer, Heidi Small, who lost her father and Suzanne Wexler, who lost her mother.
This year, ABN’s volunteer honorary chair was Alexandre Le Bouthillier, co-founder and CCO of Imagia, a young Montreal company that brings together healthcare expertise and advanced artificial intelligence to diagnose, treat and cure disease.
As a result of ABN funds, Dr. Petrecca’s lab was able to take advantage of newly developed single-cell profiling technologies that have accelerated the pace of groundbreaking work on the aggressive brain cancer called glioblastoma.
Tissues contain many different cell types. To differentiate these varied cells, the Petrecca lab, and his partners Drs. Jiannis Ragoussis and Guillaume Bourque at McGill Genome Center, have been using new single cell sequencing technologies to sequence the RNA and DNA of tens of thousands of individual brain cancer cells.
So far, the lab has identified a dozen or so genes whose molecules could possibly be put to future clinical use.
“ABN enables us to ask big questions and use innovative approaches to answer these questions,” says Dr. Petrecca. “We’re continually pushing to understand the origin and development of brain cancers and their microenvironment to develop enlightened therapies. Brain cancer has been treated as though its one uniform cancer entity, but it’s not. And there is good evidence that the immune system and the cancer interact to affect the nature of cancer development.”
“We have an upcoming scientific paper that characterizes the heterogeneity of all the different kinds of cancer cells in the tumours of many of Dr. Petrecca’s patients,” says Dr. Charles Couturier, who led the sequencing. “We’ll then look to see whether there are any underlying patterns.”
“The cost barriers to RNA single-cell sequencing are very high. We’re very fortunate to have A Brilliant Night to support it.”
A Brilliant Night would like to thank its major sponsors BMO Financial Group, CIBC, National Bank, Desjardins and WSP, Bell, CAL Construction, CGI, Fednav, Le Groupe Charbonneau, KPMG, Logistec, Medisys, Metro, Power Corporation du Canada, TC, The Rossy Foundation.