SINGAPORE: The National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) and biotechnology company immunoSCAPE have entered a partnership to enhance research on current cancer therapies and search for new treatments.
Under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed on Monday (Nov 6), NCSS and immunoSCAPE will undertake joint R&D projects, apply for joint funding, exchange scientific and technological information, as well as improve immune-monitoring.
Several projects in prostate, head and neck, lung and urogenital cancers are already in discussion, both parties said in a joint news release.
Cancer is the leading cause of death in Singapore, affecting one in every four individuals. Activating the patients’ immune response against cancer through immunotherapy strategies has yielded some early successes and promise in the fight against cancer.
The two organisations will jointly research on the immune response induced by various cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and immunotherapy.
One such collaborative project is to examine if radiotherapy triggers the patients’ immune responses to fight cancer, in addition to directly killing cancer cells. This finding is important as about half of the cancer cases in NCCS require radiotherapy, and it may pave the way to the successful combination of radiotherapy with immunotherapy.
Immunotherapy has more advantages over classical chemotherapy drugs in that it induces fewer side effects and offers potentially long-term protection against cancer. However, immunotherapy requires predictive biomarkers to identify which patients are likely to respond to it before it is administered.
Biotechnology company immunoSCAPE specialises in mapping immune system responses against tumour cells and pathogens, and measures changes in immune cells for biomarker and target identification. NCCS will tap on immunoSCAPE’s expertise to identify which biomarkers are relevant to predict the outcome in patients treated with new immunotherapies.