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U of T − Brazil partnership adds five new research projects

From cancer treatments to urban international relations

How cities talk to the world - Paradiplomacy in Sao Paulo and Toronto

The innovative partnership between the University of Toronto and the Universidade de Sao Paulo (USP) in Brazil has added five newly awarded projects to its roster – four involving cancer research and one on how urban regions are becoming  involved in international relations.

“In each of these projects you can see the benefits of this partnership,” says Professor Peter Lewis, associate vice-president, global research partnerships. “U of T and USP are both strong and dynamic research universities with expertise in many areas. But the research becomes truly synergistic when we combine talented scholars and scientists at each institution.”

The awarded projects are listed below:

How ribosomes fight cancer

Biochemical and Biophysical Studies of the R2TP-Hsp90 Complex Involved in Oncogenesis

Walid A. Houry, Biochemistry, U of T
Julio Cesar Borges, Instituto de Quimica de Sao Carlos, USP-SC

Ribosomes are large factories required to generate proteins for the cell. The biogenesis of ribosomes is a highly regulated process and many diseases, including cancers, arise if this process is affected. U of T has recently identified a novel complex, termed the Hsp90-R2TP complex, that regulates ribosome biogenesis. The research groups at U of T and USP aim to understand the mechanism of function of this complex and to identify compounds that inhibit its activity to be further developed as anti-cancers.

Toward a deeper understanding of malignant brain tumours

Epigenetics and brain tumour biology

Annie Huang, Pediatrics and Lab Medicine and Pathobiology, U of T
Houtan Noushmehr, Genetics, Pathology, Surgery and Anatomy, USP

Malignant brain tumours represent the most lethal of all childhood and adult cancers.  Particularly challenging are malignant gliomas and related primitive neuro-ectodermal (PNETs) brain tumours, as current therapies are largely ineffective.  Radiation often applied in treatment is associated with lifelong negative effects for children and adults.  The groups aim to collaborate to advance knowledge of the biology of malignant glial and PNETs to refine diagnoses and advance therapeutic discoveries.

Tumour cells vs immune cells

Cancer Immunotherapy Mobility Program

Pamela Ohashi, Immunology, U of T
Gustavo P. Amarante-Mendes, Immunology, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, USP

The World Health Organization notes that cancer is the second biggest health problem in the world, after cardiovascular diseases. The body’s immune system has the ability to fight cancer but, for various reasons, tumour cells resist immune responses. To fight tumours, it is crucial to better understand the immune response against cancer to harness immune cells. In fact, in 2013, cancer immunotherapy was considered the science breakthrough of the year. Research groups at U of T and USP will collaborate to improve knowledge of anti-tumour immune response.

A new idea in fighting skin cancer

Development of Photonics-Based Treatment of Melanoma

Professor Brian C. Wilson, Medical Biophysics, U of T
Professor Vanderlei Bagnato, Instituto de Física de São Carlos, USP-SC

This project will address a significant unmet clinical need in oncology – the minimally-invasive destruction of melanoma using photodynamic therapy (PDT). PDT is used for cancer treatment and other conditions, based on the activation of compounds by light to generate photoproducts that are “cytotoxic” — that is, they are toxic to cancer cells. Melanoma is responsible for about 85 per cent of deaths caused by skin cancer. The high level of pigmentation in melanoma has made it unsuitable for PDT. Groups at U of T and USP – both have extensive experience in this area – will explore techniques to enable the use of PDT in treating melanoma.

How cities talk to the world
Paradiplomacy in Sao Paulo and Toronto

Patricia McCarney, Global Cities Institute, Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, U of T
Wagner Pralon Mancuso, Graduate Program of International Relations, IRI-USP
Most international relations models involve a nation conducting diplomatic relations with other nations.  There is, however, a growing tendency of “subnational” governments and, in particular, global cities, to adopt strategies to influence the nature of the international system to promote their local interests in the international realm. This project will set out to create a better understanding of the paradiplomacy of Toronto and Sao Paulo.