Singapore, 17 April 2023 – The National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) has strengthened its position as a leader in shaping local and international clinical trials targeted at improving outcomes for Asian cancers. This was underscored when the positive results of a pivotal phase III trial, co-chaired by a NCCS clinician scientist, was presented at the recent American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2023 this past weekend. This comes hot on the heels of the completion of an investigator-initiated early phase trial, led and developed by another NCCS clinician scientist, for a novel cancer vaccine. The latest developments further cement NCCS’ capability and position, to design and conduct high quality oncology clinical trials, locally and internationally.
At the recent AACR Annual Meeting 2023 held in Orlando, Florida, USA, from 14 to 19 April 2023, Professor Pierce Chow, Senior Consultant, Department of Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary and Transplant Surgery, Division of Surgery and Surgical Oncology at Singapore General Hospital and NCCS, presented results from the phase III IMbrave0501 clinical trial. While surgical resection and thermal ablation are mainstays of treatment for early-stage hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), an Asian-prevalent cancer, the risk of recurrence is 70 to 80% five years post treatment. The trial found that adjuvant therapy with atezolizumab and bevacizumab increased recurrence-free survival of patients with HCC, following surgical resection or ablation. Professor Chow delivered the first public presentation of data from the trial, which he helped conceptualise as co-chair of the trial’s scientific steering committee.
Professor Chow is also the lead investigator for the AHCC09 (STRATUM), a randomised phase II investigator-initiated clinical trial assessing a novel radiotherapy and immunotherapy combination to treat locally advanced HCC. Launched in October 2022 of last year, the STRATUM trial will involve 13 sites across the Asia Pacific region and will compare the safety and efficacy of Y90-RE followed by the immunotherapy atezolizumab and bevacizumab.
“The IMbrave050 is a landmark study and the first to deliver an efficacious adjuvant therapy for patients with HCC who have undergone surgical resection or ablation, thereby addressing a huge unmet clinical need in improving outcomes for HCC patients,” said Prof Chow, who is also Vice Chair (Research) at the Surgery Academic Clinical Programme, SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre. “These results have the potential to be practice-changing and will lead to a reassessment of clinical indications for surgical resection in HCC.”
Clinician-scientists and researchers at NCCS are actively testing innovative cancer treatments. In October 2022, phase I clinical trial results of a novel cancer vaccine developed by biotech Microvax, and led by NCCS and SingHealth’s Translational Immunology Institute (TII), was published in
Nature Communications2. This first-in-human trial found that the adenovirus-based vaccine, which combines a common cancer protein target linked with an immune boosting protein, was safe in 21 patients with advanced breast, ovarian and lung cancer. Blood analysis, which employed cutting-edge artificial intelligence and machine learning, indicated the vaccine altered the immune system to protect against cancer.
“The results of our novel adenovirus-based cancer vaccine are promising, and are a testament to the National Cancer Centre Singapore and SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre’s capabilities to successfully translate cancer research into solutions that may potentially improve patient outcomes,” said Professor Toh Han Chong, lead Principal Investigator of this first-in-human trial, Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Strategic Partnerships) and Senior Consultant, Department of Gastrointestinal and Neurology, Division of Medical Oncology, NCCS. “The evaluation of novel vaccines in human patients to understand how they specifically activate the immune system, are important not only for testing such cancer immunotherapeutics, but also broadly for strengthening viral pandemic preparedness.”
“Our track record and expertise in treating Asian-specific cancers gives us the edge in designing clinical trials for this population. We have expanded clinical trial capabilities at the National Cancer Centre Singapore to take on a leading role and meet growing needs in this arena,” said Professor Lim Soon Thye, Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Clinical), NCCS and Deputy Group Chief Executive Officer (Research and Education), SingHealth.
The new NCCS building, which started operations in December 2022, houses an expanded dedicated clinical trial facility for early phase trials. The facility, which has the capacity to conduct high-quality oncology clinical trials, is staffed by a multidisciplinary team of clinicians, researchers, nurses and support staff with expertise managing the protocol and delivery of more than 220 ongoing phase I to IV local and international clinical trials.
“Clinical trials remain the best way to improve outcomes for cancer, and are in line with our mission to provide our patients with access to life-saving cancer therapeutics, so that they have the best treatment outcomes,” said Associate Professor Daniel Tan, Head, Division of Clinical Trials and Epidemiological Sciences and Senior Consultant, Department of Lung, Head and Neck and Genitourinary, Division of Medical Oncology, NCCS. “In addition to leading clinical trials, the National Cancer Centre Singapore has multiple active biopharma and biotech collaborations for clinical and translational research, creating a pipeline to take effective treatments to market and giving new hope to individuals with cancer.”
1The study was funded by F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd.
2Tan, T.J., Ang, W.X.G., Wang, WW. et al. A phase I study of an adenoviral vector delivering a MUC1/CD40-ligand fusion protein in patients with advanced adenocarcinoma. Nat Commun 13, 6453 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-33834-4
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About the National Cancer Centre Singapore
The National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) is a leading national and regional tertiary cancer centre with specialists who are experts in treating cancer. NCCS attends to the majority of cancer cases in Singapore’s public healthcare sector. To meet growing healthcare needs, the new NCCS building has increased capacity and expanded facilities dedicated to cancer care, rehabilitation, research and education. NCCS aims to provide our patients with the best outcomes with advanced and innovative treatment such as proton therapy, offered at the new Goh Cheng Liang Proton Therapy Centre.
In addition to offering holistic and multidisciplinary oncology care, our clinicians and scientists collaborate with local and international partners to conduct robust, cutting-edge clinical and translational research. We share our depth of experience and expertise by training local and overseas medical professionals, to support NCCS’ vision to be a global leading cancer centre.
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