Message from Chairperson

Professor Ts. Dr. Lim Yang Mooi

Cancer is a social and economic burden of healthcare systems not only in Malaysia but worldwide. The incidence of cancer in Malaysia is steadily on the rise, with an estimate of 70,000 newly diagnosed cases each year. Most of the cancer cases are, unfortunately, diagnosed in the late stages which are difficult to treat. This also indicates a lack of societal awareness in the importance of early cancer diagnosis. As a result, prolong hospitalization, absence from work and costs of treatment constitute a significant economic burden not only to the families of cancer patients but also to our nation.

The most prevalent cancers affecting Malaysian males are cancers of the colorectal, lung, nasopharyngeal, prostate and liver; while in Malaysian females are cancers of the breast, colorectal, lung, cervical and nasopharyngeal. Although in recent years we see a vast improvement in the timely diagnosis and treatment of cancer, for example the availability cancer screening protocols and cancer vaccines to the general population, cancer still remains the third leading cause of death in Malaysia. Cancer research, therefore, continues to be important in Malaysia. 

Cancer research can cover a wide spectrum of research areas. Development of cancer has long been accepted as a multi-factorial and multi-step process. In fundamental cancer research, studies on elucidating the mechanisms of cancer initiation, progression and metastasis have always been, and still are, the major emphasis in basic cancer researches. Genetic and, more recently, epigenetic factors of cancer are being investigated, which may lead to the development of biomarkers for early cancer detection. Meanwhile, translation cancer research studies put emphasis on clinical applications of basic research findings. Development of therapeutic strategies leading to clinical protocols for cancer treatment is a major thrust of translational cancer research. In this respect, development of viable cellular or in vitro working models for systematic drug or natural product screening is also an important research direction.

The Centre for Cancer Research (CCR) at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University Tunku Abdul Rahman, aims to provide state-of-the-art facilities and to develop integrated research programmes for fundamental and translational cancer research in Malaysia. The key areas of research will encompass early cancer detection, prognostic monitoring and development of therapeutic strategies for cancer treatment. With the availability of the latest research instrumentations, facilities, cutting-edge technical platforms and concepts, the Centre for Cancer Research will strive to become a prominent cancer research hub in Malaysia.

Goals & Objectives   

  • To become a major cancer research hub and a leading centre of excellence in Malaysia
  • To promote multi-disciplinary and yet integrated cancer research leading to the advancement of knowledge and development of products and services to enable rapid translation of fundamental research findings into clinical benefits or improvement in healthcare quality
  • To develop academic and technical personnel to achieve excellence in the key areas of cancer research
  • To develop R&D infrastructure and facilities for the key research areas in cancer prevention and treatment
  • To conduct fundamental and translational cancer research to achieve clinical benefits
  • To promote, disseminate and create awareness of general knowledge and advances in cancer science to the general public
  • To forge strategic alliances with local and foreign research institutions and industries

Research Areas

 We have 10 Key areas of research focus

  • 1.      Creation and applications of cancer models
    1. Creation of cancer cell model
    2. Application of the cancer models for drug discovery, disease diagnosis and prognosis
    3. Application of cancer models for prevention and health promotion on cancer awareness

    2.      Development of molecular strategies for early diagnosis and prognosis of         cancers
    1. Development of human cell-based multi-purpose systems for drug screening and for studies in susceptibility to chemotherapy
    2. Mutational studies using the human cancer cell-based system
    3. Development of cancer-specific microRNA expression profile signatures for early cancer detection
    4. Targeted screening of bio-active compounds using a multi-purpose cell-based System
    5. Investigation of HPV-induced susceptibility to chemotherapeutic agents using the cervical cell system model

    3.      Molecular and cellular biology of cancer cells
    1. Cancer Epigenetics
    2. Molecular (genomic and proteomic) profiling of cancer cells

    4.    Identification and application of anti-cancer phytochemicals from herbal         plants
    1. Drug discovery - Screening and isolation of anticancer herbal phytochemicals from local herbal plants and traditional Chinese medicine
    2. Cancer chemoprevention and investigating the mechanisms of action of herbal phytochemicals in regulating dysfunctional cancer signalling pathways

    5.      Cancer immunotherapy
    1. Derivation of immune cells from iPSC
    2. Gene expression studies on tumour-infiltrating regulatory T cells
    3. Use of dendritic cells to turn on the immune system to combat cancer
    4. Cancer immune-modulation study on herbal phytochemicals and functional food
  • 6.      Pharmacoepidemiology and pharmacoeconomy
    1. Cost-effectiveness (Quality of Life Assessment) of Different Chemotherapeutic Modalities used for Cancer

    7.      Nutrigenomic study
    1. Establishing the scientific basis of nutraceuticals and functional foods foods target on edible bird’s nest.

    8.      Network pharmacology
    1. Develop a database of local herbal plants and their metabolites for fingerprinting
    2. Elucidating the mechanism of actions of traditional medicine in regulating dysfunctional cancer signalling pathways

    9.      System biology
    1. Omic studies to elucidate carcinogenesis in selected cancers

    10.     Alternative medicine in cancer management
             a. Effectiveness of structured physical therapy protocol on pain variability 
                      and functional impairment in breast cancer
                  b. Pain management through mindfulness, meditation and alternative                                 treatment in cancer patients
              c. Cancer related stress and depression study in cancer patients and family                         members