Deeper stud­ies into South East Asian breast can­cer risk

New Straits Times - - News - HAZLINA AZIZ hazlina@nst.com.my

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

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