I am writing today to ask for your 2019 Annual Fund renewal gift to the Asian Fund for Cancer Research, and your decision is absolutely crucial! Right now, talented scientists are waiting for funding to pursue potentially life-saving research projects. Generous friends like you will help determine which investigations will be awarded funds—and which must be delayed until the budget allows.
I hate that we can’t fund every promising investigation! It’s not fair to the scientists eager to defeat this cruel disease, and certainly not fair to the more than 38,000 people who will be diagnosed with cancer worldwide today alone! While AFCR puts applicants through a rigorous process to find the most deserving research, in a sense YOU are the one who helps award these grants. Yes, you.
That’s why we really need your 2019 Annual Fund gift right away! Here is the list of research that your gifts have helped fund. What crucial breakthroughs might have been lost if we had to say “no” to one of them?
• Drug resistance research led by Professor Jiancheng Hu, the National Cancer Center Singapore: Mechanisms have been discovered how current drugs develop resistance when inhibiting the Raf/MEK cell-growth pathway that is aberrantly activated in 40% of human cancers. Promising new drugs are being developed, giving patients hope that resistance will no longer interfere in treating their cancer.
• New models of cancer development research led by Professor Nancy Ip, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology: Small changes in some genes (genetic variants) may cause significant risk for diseases such as cancer. New cancer models developed from lab-generated stem cells allow study of how specific gene variants behave in the relevant cell types to cause disease risk—needed information that will improve our ability to predict, diagnose and eventually treat complex diseases such as cancer.
• Genetic risk for breast cancer led by Dr. Ava Kwong, University of Hong Kong: Genetic testing in breast cancer patients in Hong Kong is establishing the risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC). A new high-risk breast cancer clinic at the University of Hong Kong in Shenzhen will establish HBOC risk in mainland China. New screening guides will be set to give high-risk individuals and families screening and individualized therapy—to prevent or detect HBOC earlier for optimal treatment—saving their lives.
• Accurate staging of esophageal cancer, led by Dr. Jian Jun Li, Sun-Yat sen University Cancer Center: A clinical research study has begun to improve accuracy of staging of early stage esophageal cancer—a widespread cancer in various Asian countries. Accurate staging is crucial for patients so they may receive the appropriate level of surgery and not receive unnecessary extensive removal of their esophagus. An inexpensive method is being tested that, if found to improve staging, can save many patients from unneeded invasive surgery with lifelong negative consequences.
• Innovative Targeting of Liver Cancer led by Professor Daniel Tenen, the National University of Singapore: A bold, novel approach is to target epigenetic factors that alter activities and abilities of cells that cause liver cancer. Aptamers (short DNA or RNA segments) are being developed to target two epigenetic proteins, SALL4 and DNMT1. Patients are in dire need of new liver cancer therapy. If these aptamers are successful, cells can be reprogramed and their fate changed away from becoming cancer.
• Epithelial Cancer research led by Professor Mingjie Zhang, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology: Epithelial cells have polarity—where one side has a different size, shape and function than the other side—and gene mutations causing ’loss of polarity’ leads to formation of many epithelial tumors: skin, lung, liver, intestine and more. Research is identifying how cell polarity proteins perform their critical roles—crucial knowledge needed to develop new therapeutics for many cancer types.