Malaysian Nasopharyngeal Cancer Research
Although the genetic alterations in NPC have been studied for some time, current molecular models are unable to explain fully the complexity of the disease. In CARIF, we have completed the first genome-wide (>15000 genes) study of Malaysian NPC and identified a number of genes that appear to be important in the development of the disease. This study is particularly significant because it is likely to identify gene targets that could lead to the development of molecular targeted therapies for NPC. Further, biomarkers that can be used to predict treatment response would allow us to specifically tailor the treatment modality for the patients. While EBV infects more than 90% of the world population, its precise role in the pathogenesis of NPC remain unclear. A fuller understanding of the association between EBV and NPC will have relevance to the development of novel therapeutic approaches to target EBV that are also likely to be applicable to other EBV-related cancers. We are also involved in a research project to determine which genetic factors might cause some people to have an increased risk of developing NPC and this study is important in tackling the major challenge of late presentation of the disease.
Lastly, we have been integrally involved in establishing the first Malaysian NPC Biospecimen Network and NPC Society of Malaysia, together with seven academic institutions and hospitals across Malaysia. On behalf of the Malaysian NPC Study Group, we have evaluated the clinical value of plasma EBV DNA load in the largest cohort of Malaysian patients with NPC.
Overall, the objectives of Nasopharyngeal Cancer Research are:
- To understand the molecular pathogenesis of NPC by investigating the genetic mechanisms that drive the development of NPC
- To identify and develop biomarkers for diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of NPC
- To investigate the contribution of Epstein-Barr virus to the pathogenesis of NPC