The MSC Cancer Programme aims to bring together the diverse expertise in the various aspects of basic and applied cancer biology in an attempt to foster collaborations between programme members and with external parties. Our ultimate goals are to enhance our basic understanding of the process of carcinogenesis and its progression; identify novel targets and biomarkers; and translate this knowledge into innovative and personalised therapeutic solutions.
Who We Are
We are faculty members and researchers in the five basic science departments within NUS Medicine with a shared interest in exploring the intricate circuitry of the cancer cell from the standpoint of morphology, biochemistry, physiology, immunology and pharmacology.
What We Do
The strength of the MSC Cancer Programme lies in our ability to address a wide range of biological phenomena underlying the various stages of cancer formation, maintenance and progression, as well as its therapeutic targeting.
Our research focuses include the following:
- Studying the cellular microenvironment and metabolic changes that promote the transformation of normal cells to cancer cells and maintain this transformation;
- Unraveling the roles of cell-cell and intra-cellular communication (including secondary messengers) and pathways and protein networks involved in cell-state transition, cell cycle regulation and cell fate determination;
- Characterising the effects of metabolic reactions on gene expression and cancer signaling;
- Understanding the impact of cellular metabolic changes on genes, proteins and epigenetic modifications (chemical compounds on genes that affect their expression);
- Elucidating the role of inflammatory mediators and the microbiome on immune surveillance and modulation;
- Generating genetic and protein profiles of various cancers;
- Developing in vivo cancer mouse models;
- Using data analytics, bio-informatics and computational biology to reveal underlying mechanisms and discover new cancer biomarkers;
- Producing tumor-specific antibodies; and
- Discovering novel cancer therapeutics.
To that end, the current focus has been on a wide range of human cancers such as breast, colorectal, lung, liver, brain, stomach, pancreas, and nasopharyngeal cancer, as well as sarcomas, multiple myeloma, lymphomas and leukemias. To facilitate these endeavors, the researchers are leveraging on the existing platform technologies within the MSC such as the Imaging and Flow Cytometry facilities, genome and proteome screening platforms, antibody development service, synthetic biology platforms and the non-coding miRNA profiling MiRXES technology.
The Way Forward
The MSC Cancer Programme provides an excellent avenue to synergise our expertise in the diverse areas of cancer biology. Our immediate objective is to develop “all the way” capability by harnessing our strengths in basic inquiry and leveraging on relevant platform technologies as well as incentivising collaborations with clinicians and industry around cancers endemic to the region, in particular Singapore. We believe that we are well placed, given the strong links and juxtaposition of National University Hospital to NUS Medicine and the existing collaborations between basic science and clinical faculty as well as the global success of one of the existing core technologies, MiRXES, a multi-million dollar platform for the screening of non-coding RNAs involved in cancer development, disease prognosis and biomarker discovery. MiRXES, is a uniquely Singaporean example of cross-pollination between basic science research, clinic and industry. Furthermore, our existing strengths also allow us to leverage on the data analytics platform, a critical component of any research programme in this age of rapidly advancing technologies that generate tons of data. The data analytics and bio-informatics platform within the MSC will provide researchers and clinicians ready access to existing and emerging cancer genomic and proteomic data, which could have potential diagnostic and therapeutic implications.