Killing cancer cells by stopping them from using oxygen and sugar

The team led by Dr Guy Sauvageau is studying a novel non-toxic cancer therapy based on 2 compounds that kill cancer cells without affecting normal ones.

One of the biggest challenges in cancer research is finding treatments that kill cancer cells while leaving the surrounding normal cells intact. This team of pan-Canadian researchers, international collaborators and patient partners has discovered 2 compounds that, when used in combination, not only show promise in achieving this goal but are especially effective against low-survival cancers such as lung, pancreatic and liver cancers.   

With funding from the Canadian Cancer Society and the Lotte & John Hecht Memorial Foundation, this research team is building on their recent discovery of the selective anti-cancer effects of these 2 compounds, which although previously studied in other situations have yet to be used to treat cancer. The team will further optimize these compounds, study exactly how they work and will progress to clinical trials that will identify those patients likely to be responsive to this novel non-toxic cancer therapy. 

If successful, this project could deliver a life-changing non-toxic treatment to save the lives of people with a large portion of low-survival cancers – without the debilitating side effects of many standard therapies – and put Canadian innovation at the forefront of this field.

Total Amount Awarded over 5 years: $ 7,500,000

Team Members

Principal Investigator
  • Guy Sauvageau, Université de Montréal
Co-Principal Investigators
  • Anne Marinier, Université de Montréal
  • Vincent Quoc-Huy Trinh, Université de Montréal
  • Geneviève Deblois, Université de Montréal
  • Josée Hébert, Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont
  • Vincent-Philippe Lavallée, CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre
  • Sebastien Lemieux, Institut de Recherche en Immunologie et cancérologie
  • Neil Renwick, Queen's University
  • Yuzhuo Wang, BC Cancer Research Centre
Patients, Survivors and Caregivers
  • Nancy Carrier
  • Yu Qing Huang, University of Toronto
  • Jeffrey H. Lawrence
  • Luigi Petrella
  • Alice Sauvageau
  • Christine Qiong Wu
  • Daina Avizonis, McGill University
  • Katherine Borden, Institut de Recherche en Immunologie et cancérologie
  • Thatcher Heumann, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
  • Janessa Laskin, BC Cancer Agency (Vancouver)
  • Gregoire Leclair, Université de Montréal
  • Anna Means, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
  • Rejean Ruel, Université de Montréal
  • Matthew Smith, Université de Montréal
  • Pierre Thibault, Institut de Recherche en Immunologie et cancérologie
  • Simon Turcotte, Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal
  • Michael Tyers, Université de Montréal
  • Kay Washington, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Team Geography

Team members from 4 provinces, as well as 2 US states (Tennessee and California)