Deeper studies into South East Asian breast cancer risk
CANCER Research Malaysia (CRM) has received a collaborative award amounting to RM4.2 million from Wellcome Trust UK to work with researchers on the most comprehensive analysis to determine genes that are associated with the risk of breast cancer in Malay, Chinese and Indian women.
The 36-month study entitled “Determination of the prevalence breast cancer predisposition genes in South East Asian women and development of an Asian polygenic risk assessment tool” will consist of researchers from Cambridge University, Nottingham University Malaysia Campus (UNMC), University of Malaya and National University Hospital Singapore.
CRM chief executive Professor Dr Teo SooHwang said: “There is just too little information today and even some dangerous misuse of genetic testing by companies seeking to make quick profits rather than helping patients.
“With this study, we aim to build a risk assessment tool so that Asian women can more accurately determine their risk of breast cancer.
“This will allow for equitable access to genetics screening for the public and help women make informed choices in managing their risk of breast cancer,” she added.
According to Teo, one in 20 women in Malaysia will develop breast cancer at some point their lives. Around 5,000 Malaysian women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, most of them aged between 30 and 60 years, where nearly half of those affected are under 50 years of age. This is how common the disease is in Malaysia and how randomly it strikes.
“Breast cancer is a curable disease if it is treated early and we are proud to be part of this research initiative which helps women to identify their risks in developing breast cancer,” said UNMC’s vice-provost (research & knowledge exchange) Professor Claire O’Malley.
“As a leading research-intensive university we have been at the forefront of addressing challenges faced by global and local communities through our research. We hope that our participation in this research on breast cancer will help to save lives and enrich the quality of life for millions of women in South East Asia and beyond,” O’Malley added.
Dr Ho Weang Kee from UNMC will be one of the research team members.
For the research, 5,000 breast cancer pa- tients and 5,000 healthy women will be analysed for 30 genes and a genome-wide scan, making this the largest study of its kind in South East Asia.
This could lead to the development of breast cancer risk assessment tool for Asian women which will enable patients and doctors to make shared decisions regarding the management of one’s risk of breast cancer.
With this study, we aim to build a risk assessment tool so that Asian women can more accurately determine their risk of breast cancer.” PROFESSOR DR TEO SOO-HWANG
CRM chief executive
Wellcome Trust UK is the world’s largest medical research charity funding research into human and animal health.
The Collaborative Awards promote the development of new ideas and speed the pace of discovery through funding teams of researchers to work together on the most important scientific problems that can only be solved through collaborative efforts.
Dr Teo Soo Hwang