The Centre for Cancer Research (CCR) hosted the Cancer Research Conference 2017 on Holistic Treatment in Cancer from 29 to 30 November 2017 at UTAR Sungai Long Campus. Supported by the Malaysian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (MSBMB), the conference was set to congregate scientists to investigate the fundamental issues in clinical applications and discuss the utility of state-of-the-art technologies and high-throughput experiments to understand cancer and how to best treat it. It was also the aim of the conference to emphasise on both the use of traditional and complementary approaches and treatments. The conference also aimed to provide some directions on whether the current healthcare system would enhance the effectiveness of cancer treatment and what further measures could be done. The UTAR CCR and Conference Organising Chairperson Prof Dr Lim Yang Mooi said, “Cancer research breakthrough and cancer treatment have continued to fight cancers and saved lives. However, cancer has become more common and the mortality rate continues to rise. Therefore, there is an urgent need for more researchers and professionals from the relevant fields to work on the common goals to further explore prospective research areas and to help us better understand cancer.” Speaking in his welcome speech, UTAR Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) Dean and CCR Advisor Emeritus Prof Dr Cheong Soon Keng said, “A platform such as today’s conference enables us to address the challenges evolving in the healthcare system. It is extremely important for educators like us to seek for a more holistic approach which emphasises the humanity, research and medical aspects in order to help develop a more cohesive system for the cancer patients.”
Prof Lim (left) and Emeritus Prof Cheong welcoming the conference participants
The two-day conference consisted of three themes and one forum, encompassing multiple invited talks, plenary sessions, oral presentations and technical talks by the industry. The first theme was ‘Cancer Biology & Cell Model Systems’, chaired by Assoc Prof Dr Thaw Zin. It started with a plenary session by Emeritus Prof Cheong on “Are We on Track to Cure Cancer with Immunotherapy?” It was followed by invited talks, namely “Patient Derived Xenograft Models of Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma” by Dr Alan Khoo Soo Beng from Institute for Medical Research, “Development of Therapies in Head and Neck Cancers” by Prof Dr Cheong Sok Ching from Cancer Research Malaysia, “EBV Infection and Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma (NPC): What We Know So Far?” by Dr Yap Lee Fah from University Malaya (UM), and “LTR Retro-transposon Derived Genes and Their Roles in Cancer Biology” by Assoc Prof Dr Jeff Tan Kuan Onn from Sunway University. An oral presentation titled “The Role of Exosomes in Treatment Sensitivity of Oral Cancer Cells” was also conducted by Dr Lee Wai Leng from Monash University.
Clockwise from top left: Dr Khoo, Prof Cheong Sok Ching, Dr Yap, Assoc Prof Tan and Dr Lee Wai Leng
Themed ‘Translational Cancer Treatment’, the second session of the conference was chaired by FMHS Head of Population Medicine Dr Khine Pwint Phyu. Prof Dr Seow Heng Fong from Universiti Putra Malaysia spoke at the plenary session on “Targeting M1- and M2-Like Macrophages for Cancer”. Following the plenary session were three invited talks included “Cancer Prevention Nutrition: From Reductionist to Holistic Approach” by Prof Dr Mirnalini Kandiah from UCSI University, “Targeting Breast Cancer Stem Cells and Non-Stem Breast Cancer Cell through Combination Therapies” by Prof Leong Chee Onn from International Medical University, and “Interaction of CTCF and YB-1 Transcription Factors in Regulating the c-myc gene in Cervical Cancer” by Assoc Prof Dr Venugopal Balakrishnan from Universiti Sains Malaysia. Shareni Jeyamogan from Sunway University presented “Anticancer Efficacy of Benzodioxane, Naphthalene Diimide, Acetamol Derivatives and Porphyrin”, which was followed by a technical talk titled “Unlocking the Cancer Genome with Agilent NGS Solution” by Dr Lee Chee Yang from Agilent Technologies Sdn Bhd.
Clockwise from top left: Prof Seow, Prof Mirnalini, Prof Leong, Assoc Prof Venugopal, Shareni and Dr Lee Chee Yang
The subsequent session was held on the second day of the conference with the theme ‘T&CM in Cancer Treatment’, chaired by FMHS Prof Dr Swaminanthan Manickam and Dr Ong Hooi Tin. The session commenced with a plenary session with Assoc Prof Dr Xiaoshu Zhu from Western Sydney University on “Effort of Exploring Roles of Traditional Chinese Medicine in the Mainstream of the Integrative Cancer Care in Australia”. The following invited talks for this session were “Isolation and Identification of Anticancer Lead Compounds from the Plants in Lingnan Region, China” by Prof Dr Zhang Hong Jie from Hong Kong Baptist University, “Using High Throughput Microarray Profiling to Build the Chinese Herbal Medicine Connectivity Map: From Basic to Clinical Trial” by Prof Dr Huang Chi Ying from National Yang Ming University, and “Crude Extract vs Pure Compound as Potential Anti-cancer Agent” by Assoc Prof Dr Ho Wan Yong from Nottingham University. This session also included oral presentations on “The Epigenetic Drugs Zebularine and Trichostatin A Sensitized MDA-MB-231 Breast Cancer Cells Towards TRAIL-Induced Apoptosis” by Dr Ngai Siew Ching from Nottingham University and “Cytotoxic Evaluation of Leptospermum Javanicum along with the Anti-cancer Properties of the Active Isolate, Betulinic acid” by Suerialoasan Navanesan from UM. Another technical talk was also held at this session by Toh Xue Yu from Straits Scientific Sdn Bhd on “Know No Boundaries: Harnessing Innovative Technologies in Advance Science through Flow Cytometry”.
Clockwise from top left: Assoc Prof Zhu, Prof Zhang, Prof Huang, Assoc Prof Ho, Dr Ngai, Suerialoasan and Toh
In line with the conference, Prof Lim chaired a forum with five forum speakers to discuss the “Integrated Approaches in Cancer Treatment”. Topics covered at the forum included “Way Forward: Traditional and Complementary Medicine in Malaysia” by Dr Goh Cheng Soon from the Ministry of Health (MOH), “The Breakthrough of Conventional Methods in Cancer Treatment” by Emeritus Prof Cheong, “Traditional Chinese Medicine in Cancer Treatment” by Dr Teo Chiah Shean from MOH, “Ayurveda in Cancer Management” by Dr Chiramel Devassy Siby from The Ayur Centre, and “Diet and Chinese Medicine for Cancer Prevention（中西医抗癌饮食浅谈）” by Lan Yen Min from UTAR.
(From left) Lan, Dr Goh, Emeritus Prof Cheong, Dr Chiramel, Dr Teo and Prof Lim at the forum
Besides, the conference also saw exhibitions and poster sessions. The top three winners for Best poster presentation were Lian Chee Fong from Taylor’s University, and Ng Yun Kwan and Wong Teck Yew from UTAR. The sponsors of the conference included Agilent Technologies (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd., Straits Scientific (M) Sdn. Bhd., Canvio Sdn. Bhd. & Miltenyi Biotec, Insan Saintifik Sdn Bhd, MSBMB and Matrioux.
Posters displayed at the conference
Some booths by the sponsors