An international team of research scientists has revealed new genetic insights that could change the way oncologists treat gastric cancer – the fourth most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in the world. This collaborative effort is supported in part by the Asian Fund for Cancer Research (AFCR).


Scientists from China and the United States investigated hundreds of gastric cancer tissue samples using advanced whole-genome sequencing technology. Their analysis identified multiple critical genetic signatures, including defects in three cellular signaling pathways (BRCA2, Wnt and PI3-K-ERBB4), that might influence how gastric tumors respond to chemotherapy.


A number of drugs which target these genetic defects are currently available and have already been tested in other cancer types such as breast and ovarian cancers. This research suggests that patients with gastric cancer may benefit from these drugs as well – they could potentially be designated to receive the particular therapy indicated by their genetics, in an approach called “personalized medicine.”


The project is part of the Tissue Bank Consortium in Asia (TBCA) which AFCR has been supporting since 2007. TBCA is a collaboration platform established by the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR) in the U.S. that aims to promote and facilitate biospecimen-based international cancer research, with the goal of accelerating personalized cancer medicine for many different types of cancer. As part of the Consortium, this highly successful project represents a critical step towards making personalized medicine a reality for gastric cancer patients.


The results of this research are highly translational and, if validated, could quickly lead to clinical benefits for patients, as therapies that target the genetic defects identified in this research may prove to be more effective than the current standard of care.


“Gastric cancer is a deadly disease, particularly for patients in East Asia, where over half of cases occur,” said Sujuan Ba, Ph.D., President of AFCR. “But no individual scientists, institutions, or even countries can defeat cancer alone. At AFCR, we recognize the importance of collaboration if we are to defeat this cancer, or any other types of cancer, and this project illustrates the great achievements we can make by bringing together resources and expertise across geographic boundaries. We remain committed to supporting promising collaborative research, to accelerate the pace for finding cures for patients in Asia, and around the world.”


The research results were published online on January 12 in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences.


Partners of this international research collaboration included: Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital (China); The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (USA);Beijing Genome Institute (China); The Chinese University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong); Emory University School of Medicine (USA); Mayo Clinic (USA); Amgen Inc. (USA); Eli Lilly and Company (USA); AbbVie Inc. (USA); Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (USA); Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research (USA); Ohio State University (USA); The National Foundation for Cancer Research (USA); Asian Fund for Cancer Research (Hong Kong); University of Copenhagen (Denmark); and University of Pittsburgh (USA).


About the Asian Fund for Cancer Research


The Asian Fund for Cancer Research, Ltd. (AFCR) is a non-profit organization committed to curing cancers that have significant impacts on Asian populations. Headquartered in Hong Kong, AFCR is uniquely positioned to implement in Asia the newest cancer research discoveries and technologies from around the world, investigate the distinct causes of cancer in Asian populations through innovative genetic and molecular research, and develop more effective therapies tailored to Asian cancer patients. AFCR is dedicated to bridging the scientific and educational gaps in cancer research and cancer prevention between Asian countries and the rest of the world through promoting, coordinating and funding international collaboration in cancer research and public education. We are fully devoted to reducing the incidence and increasing the survival rate of cancers in Asia. For more information, visit or call (852) 2156 9684.


About the Tissue Bank Consortium in Asia (TBCA)


TBCA is a collaboration platform that promotes and facilitates biospecimen-based international cancer research. TBCA is governed by an Executive Steering Committee comprised of leading scientists from top research institutions, cancer hospitals and industry in the United States and China. It operates in total compliance with the highest international standards for biospecimen collection and data annotation. With AFCR support, TBCA has established a new model for public-private partnership and academia-industry collaboration in cancer research across geographic boundaries.


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