On Tuesday, The B.C. Cancer Foundation announced that it had received a historic $18 million philanthropic grant from an anonymous donor.

The generous donation will be used to fund the foundation’s world-leading Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics program. The program includes research and development of radiopharmaceuticals to treat different forms of cancer, and clinical trials of the treatments.

“Today marks an important moment in cancer research and care in Canada with one of the largest donations ever made to bring new treatment solutions to patients. The $18.346 million is grounded in hope and science with an opportunity to save lives here in B.C., across the country and globe,” said Sarah Roth, president & CEO of the B.C. Cancer Foundation in a news release.

The Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics program will focus on metastatic prostate cancer in men for its first round of treatment trials. The foundation hopes that the results from their use of radioligand therapy in this trial will help with the research of other common cancers like metastatic melanoma, breast, ovarian, pancreatic and blood cancers.

“We’ve been effectively using medical isotopes in cancer imaging for decades and to treat thyroid cancer,” said Dr. Bénard, program leader and B.C. Leadership Chair in Functional Cancer Imaging in the same news release.

“We have recently developed probes that bind specifically to cancer cells enabling us to apply this technology to treat many more cancers, notably prostate. With these game-changing funds, our team at B.C. Cancer can address the urgent need to improve outcomes for thousands of people in our province who are diagnosed with incurable cancer each year.”

Radioligand therapy is different from chemotherapy, and is designed to only target cancer cells, packing a stronger punch in a more concentrated package. The B.C. Cancer Foundation says there is evidence that radioligand therapy has significant benefits for a variety of cancers, tumors, and diseases.

The foundation hopes that this new form of treatment will be a welcome alternative to chemotherapy, radiation, and immunotherapy.