A cancer treatment that works for one patient might not work for another. Have you ever wondered why different patients respond to the same treatment differently? Now, imagine your doctor being able to choose the right treatment for you by testing your blood or cancer sample – finding a treatment that works precisely for you, potentially saving your life. That’s what precision medicine is – using the right treatment for the right patient according to their cancer’s unique genetic features or the genes that they inherited.
Our scientists have built the largest database of Asian breast cancer samples and we are using these samples to better analyze and understand how cancer can be treated more precisely and effectively in Asian patients. After all, we inherited slightly different genes, and our environment and lifestyles influence how cancer affects us and consequently, how we respond to treatments.
Based on the genetic data derived from that database, our researchers have discovered that 60% of Asian women inherit a gene variant called APOBEC3B (compared to only 15% of European women and less than 5% of African women) and Asians are 4 TIMES more likely to carry this gene. Why is this important? Because carriers of the APOBEC3B gene have stronger immune responses and therefore may be more likely to respond to immunotherapy!
We’ve all heard about chemotherapy and radiotherapy in cancer treatments, but thanks to developments in on-going research, we have better and more precise treatment options for cancer. One of them is immunotherapy – a treatment method that empowers your body’s immune system to fight against cancer. Sounds simple right? But there’s a catch. Sometimes, these sneaky cancer cells find a way of hiding from our immune system (think of them as wearing an invisibility cloak).
In our AUROR clinical trial, we are testing a new drug that removes this invisibility cloak, enabling the immune system to detect and destroy those sneaky cancer cells. Taking into account our unique Asian genetic makeup (like the APOBEC3B gene variant we mentioned earlier), patients could have a significantly higher probability of responding to immunotherapy, leading to better tumour control rates and ultimately, improve survival and quality of life.
AUROR is also the first clinical trial in Asia that uses a genetic marker more common in Asians. This is an important stepping stone to bring Asians closer to personalized medicine in cancer treatment. The AUROR clinical trial is already showing promising results in the 1st stage! As we speak, the 2nd stage is well in progress to reach and impact many more precious lives!
The AUROR clinical trial could directly change lives by giving doctors an effective way of precisely choosing patients who benefit from immunotherapy. More importantly, conducting clinical trials in Asians also give breast cancer patients in advance stages the opportunity to access new drugs that could save their lives.
The impact of AUROR is best described by one of our clinical trial patients herself:
This is why Cancer Research Malaysia exists – to conduct impactful research and save lives. This year, we have already launched our second clinical trial for breast cancer, and we will be starting our first trial for head and neck cancer patients. Through these clinical trials, we’ll be able to do discover new, improved ways to treat cancer in Asians.
The work is far from over, and we need all the help we can get. As a non-profit organisation fully funded by donations, your support is vital to help us continue to translate discoveries in the lab into practical, effective treatments on the ground for Asian prominent cancers. Join us today to make a difference and save lives: