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Clinical and Translational Research Initiatives

DSSO’s Head and Neck team is involved in a number of research programs that study various clinical and translation aspects of head and cancer prognostication and therapeutics. Clinical research is achieved through the establishment and enrichment of good clinical databases to answer specific clinical questions and dilemmas in head and neck oncology. Currently, an online database has been created to track outcomes of all head and neck oncology patients capturing the various treatment modalities that they receive sub-stratified by tumour subtype, stage and grade using the capabilities afforded by the REDCAP (Research Electronic Data Capture) relational database system. This system serves as the electronic platform via which cases are presented during the head and neck multidisciplinary tumour boards. Joint decisions are entered and recorded real-time at the meetings into the database for future research projects and audit purposes.

The team is also carrying out an in-depth Quality of Life (QOL) project aims to identify patients who require more intensive rehabilitation than what is currently offered. The team of doctors, nurses and allied health professionals gather to address problems in complex cases which require multi-disciplinary care. This allows the team to have a better understanding of the possible challenges faced by patients during recovery and better tailor the pre/post treatment support.

The Cancer Therapeutics Research Laboratory’s (led by PI Dr Gopal Iyer) theme is identification of prognostic markers, novel therapeutic targets and modification of conventional therapy for head and neck cancers, through individualization of treatment modalities. The lab has established primary cell line and stem cell models for testing of targeted compounds specific to head and neck cancers. The aim is to translate this knowledge into clinical trials and patient specific outcome in the near future.

Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Cancers

The Program in Translational and Clinical Liver Cancer Research (led by Professor Pierce Chow) is a multi-institutional and multi-national enterprise with NCCS leading translational research platforms and prospective muti-center clinical studies in HCC. The program currently hosts the NMRC National Flagship Program in Liver Cancer (PLANET 2.0; AHCC12 EMPHASIS), the investigator-initiated multi-national randomized phase II trial involving 13 sites in the Asia-Pacific (AHCC09 STRATUM) and the whole-of-nation prospective cohort study (AHCC10 ELEGANCE), in collaboration with 3 industrial partners, 2 academic institutions, 6 hospitals/specialist clinics and 8 SingHealth polyclinics in Singapore. It also houses the secretariat of the Asia-Pacific Hepatocellular Carcinoma Trials Group which has to date, led more than 10 prospective, multi-centre clinical studies in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) involving more than 50 participating centres in 17 countries with more than 4,000 patients enrolled. New clinical studies are in the pipeline and the group has established strong alliance with industry and academia. More information on the AHCC Trials Group can be found on:

Sarcoma, Peritoneal and Rare Tumours (SPRinT)
DSSO’s SPRinT team actively engages in a wide spectrum of research activities in a bid to advance cancer care for our patients, including clinical research, health services research (Palliative Surgery and Surgical Oncology (PSSO) Initiative) and translational research (Laboratory of Applied Human Genetics). Our clinical research ranges from clinical audits to ensure best practices to quality of life research studies. We also actively pursue various clinical trials aimed at optimizing treatment outcomes and pushing the boundaries of cancer care for our patients suffering from peritoneal disease and sarcomas (e.g. NCT04956068, NCT03172416, NCT03792867, NCT03422432 and NCT03430128). 

The SPRinT team has also embarked on palliative surgical care initiatives, which we envisage to serve as a bridge to create a generation of surgeons that can provide evidence-based holistic care for surgical patients with life-limiting diseases. Through incubation and implementation of novel healthcare services delivery strategies, innovative technologies, science and education, we aim to improve the care and outcomes of palliative surgical patients. 

The Laboratory of Applied Human Genetics (led by PI Associate Professor Johnny Ong) is an interdisciplinary laboratory, with a specific focus on peritoneal and sarcoma malignancies. Our mission is to use sound scientific principles and to harness technology to transit scientific research to clinical care beyond proof of concept. Our team has developed novel models that incorporate both the tumour and the tumour microenvironment, which serves to better recapitulate the patients’ disease condition to enable more accurate testing and development of therapeutics for peritoneal disease. More information on the Laboratory of Applied Human Genetics can be found here.