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Cracking Cancer

A clinical research trial at the Personalized OncoGenomics Program is changing the way scientists think about the future of cancer care.

A printer-friendly version of this page 44 minutes
SDH Captioned>>

Directed by Judith Pyke
Produced by Sue Ridout
Writers: Judith Pyke, Helen Slinger
Director of Photography: Todd Craddock
Editor: Alan Flett
Original Music: Ben Mink
Host: David Suzuki
Produced by Dreamfilm Productions in association with CBC Television's "The Nature of Things"

"Presenting an accessible, detailed, and balanced the cutting edge of cancer research." The Lancet Oncology
Six years ago Zuri Scrivens, the mother of a toddler, was very ill with incurable breast cancer that had spread to her liver and lymph nodes. Today Zuri has no signs of cancer, not because of a miraculous new cancer drug, but thanks to a diabetes medication.

CRACKING CANCER follows a group of patients with incurable cancer on a trailblazing journey through a highly experimental clinical trial at the BC Cancer Agency in Vancouver called POG -- Personalized OncoGenomics.

The trial compares patients' normal DNA -- each cell's complete set of instructions -- with that of their tumors, to find the genetic mutations causing their cancer. Zuri's cancer driver was a mutation that caused a very high growth factor. The team plowed through decades of data to isolate which drug in all of medicine, not just cancer, might block that growth factor. They zeroed in on a diabetes medication. Zuri received the drug and standard hormone treatment. Within 5 months, her cancer became undetectable.

POG offers a radical new way of treating cancer, not according to where it originates in the body, but rather as a disease of genetic mutations. Thousands more will join the trial, all hoping for their own salvation, all helping science to crack the cancer code.

Grade Level: 10 - 12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2017     Copyright Date: 2017
DVD ISBN: 1-941545-87-4

"The documentary provides a well-balanced view of the challenges and opportunities of genomic medicine, as shown by the lives of patients enrolled in a pioneering clinical trial. The intersect of computing and the biology of cancer is sure to fundamentally alter the approach to cancer therapy, and Cracking Cancer captures the excitement of this future."
Dr. Adrian Lee, Professor of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology, Director, Women's Cancer Research Center, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute

"In an unobtrusive 'observational' style we are privy to the intimate medical lives of several participants at various stages of the POG program, illustrating their diversity of outcomes, but also the day-to-day disruption, anxiety, and drama of experiencing cancer diagnosis and treatment...In presenting an accessible, detailed, and balanced look at the work of the POG team, The Nature of Things is doing valuable public engagement work at the cutting edge of cancer research."
Catherine Lucas, The Lancet Oncology

"Cracking cancer is an important, high quality film with hope and full of potential educational value to help health care leaders, students and patients understand the critical issues accentuated in this age of personalized medicine...A classroom viewing might include discussions of important considerations like how to view opportunity costs, the relative value of different methods for knowledge dissemination and why evidence review is more than just an exercise in quantification."
Dr. Jeffrey S. Hoch, Professor and Chief, Division of Health Policy and Management, Associate Director, Center for Healthcare Policy and Research, University of California-Davis

"Compelling...A fascinating development in the ongoing struggle to battle cancer. Recommended for science classes studying biology and genetics."
Ragan O'Malley, School Library Journal

"The sea change in cancer treatment can bring genetics to life for students of any age. Cancer is a genetic disease, not because most risk is inherited, but because the genes that normally control basic cellular functions at the tissue level have been damaged. Novel cancer treatments block the harmful effects of these mutations."
Dr. Michael Thun, Emeritus Vice President of Epidemiological Research, American Cancer Society

"Cancer will touch everyone in their lifetime, either directly or indirectly. This documentary puts a very personal side on personalized medicine. Although much more research is needed, these compelling patient stories give hope for future treatments. I thank them for sharing their stories and praise the bold researchers that are striving to better understand cancer and identify new therapies."
Dr. John D. McPherson, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, UC Davis School of Medicine, Co-Director of Advanced Translational Genomics Center, UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center

"This film beautifully captures where advances in personalized medicine and genome sequencing are going...The film can be enjoyed by all audiences, from scientists who are making cancer discoveries themselves to middle school students interested in medicine."
Kenny Chen, Science Books and Films

"Groundbreaking research...The patients provide courageous and articulate commentary on their respective fights for life. Offering a fascinating look into promising advances in cutting-edge cancer research, this is highly recommended."
P. Hall, Video Librarian

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DVD includes SDH captions for the deaf and hard of hearing, and scene selection.

Cancer Research
Death And Dying
Life Science
Patient Education
Personalized Medicine

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... more Reviews

"Recommended...The film includes interviews with researchers and clinicians as well as patients themselves, who display extraordinary courage and cheer even when the trial treatments don't go as well as hoped for. Those hopes are obviously shared by the team of scientists leading the program, who express their realistic overriding goal of one day making cancer a manageable chronic condition instead of a life-threatening enigma."
Kay Hogan Smith, Educational Media Reviews Online

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