Continuing its legacy of encouraging cancer research in Malaysia via its annual Cancer Research Award, MAKNA once again recognised outstanding recipients in cancer studies.
The annual MAKNA Cancer Research Award (MCRA) was launched in 2001 to support cancer research in order to push towards discovering potential cures for the disease.
The recipients for the 2020 MCRA Award and their research titles are as follows:
Dr Siti Amalina Zainal Abidin (Universiti Malaya)
Investigating the Role of Primary Cilia in Cancer Associated-Fibroblasts (CAFs) Differentiation
Dr Siti Amalina’s study aims to investigate the role of primary cilia in CAFs differentiation. To do this, several objectives will be addressed:
- to determine the primary cilia expression in experiment-derived CAF (eCAF) and CAF-derived from oral cancer.
- To investigate the association of proteins required for ciliogenesis with CAFs phenotype.
This work will generate novel information regarding the role of primary cilia in reprogramming normal fibroblast into CAFs and associated molecular mechanisms that will contribute to the development of ‘çiliotherapies’ for treatment of oral cancer.
Ms Jessica Ooi Sui Ying (The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus)
Colourimetric Nanosensor for the Detection of Ovarian Cancer Biomarker miRNA-665
Ms Jessica’s project aims to develop an enzyme- and PCR-free method to amplify and detect miRNA665. This assay combines an enzyme-free nucleic acid amplification method called hybridisation chain reaction with a detection step that utilises gold nanoparticles. Due to the optical properties of gold nanoparticles, the signal readout will be a visible colour change thus making this assay suitable for point-of-care testing.
Dr Zaridatul Aini Ibrahim (Universiti Malaya)
Investigating the IL-1α/OPG Pathway in Promoting Autophagic TRAIL-Resistance in Colorectal Cancer
In recent years, cancer therapy has entered a paradigm shift from radiation and broad-spectrum chemotherapeutic agents to targeted therapy that precisely attacking cancer cells. One of the examples is tumour necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) therapy. TRAIL therapy acts through the pro-apoptotic DR4 and DR5 receptors in tumour cells without harming normal cells. Unfortunately, not all cancer cells are sensitive to TRAIL therapy due to acquired TRAIL-resistance. Another major factor resulting in TRAIL resistance is protective autophagy, whereby cancer cells employ cell survival mechanisms through autophagy activation. There is a link between TRAIL-resistance, protective autophagy and damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs). In this study, the role of IL-1α and OPG in TRAIL-resistance and protective autophagy in CRC cells will be determined. Inhibition of IL-1α and OPG could potentially sensitize cancer cells to TRAIL therapy, offering new avenues for the treatment against CRC.
Since it was introduced in 2001, MAKNA has awarded a total of RM 1,731,410 towards funding cancer research by young researchers in Malaysia. To date, the programme has funded 60 researchers.