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Bek Chai Heah Laboratory of Cancer Genomics

​Research head:​Professor Kam Man HUI
​Research team:

Hongping XIA
Clara Kai Ting KOH

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide and presents a great public health and social burden. HCC is an epithelial cancer originating from hepatocytes and has been postulated to result from a series of genetic alterations attributable to a diverse range of causes. HCC is a highly therapyresistant cancer. Surgical treatments, including hepatic resection and orthotopic liver transplantation, provide the best option for cure in selected patients; yet, the long-term, disease-free survival rate remains unsatisfactory. Tumour recurrence and metastases are the major complications in more than two-thirds of these patients, with a poor prognosis and no proven effective survival-prolonging treatment modality available. There is indeed a great unmet need for new effective therapies for HCC. To tackle HCC, our laboratory employs unbiased, genome-wide strategies to identify key genes/regulatory pathways that are altered in relevant human HCC tissues. Further, we seek to understand how these changes affect the carcinogenesis of HCC, with the aim to modulate these regulatory pathways against the disease. We have systematically gathered molecular evidence and, through clinical corroboration of the data, have discovered molecular biomarkers that can provide clinically meaningful avenues for designing strategies independently from clinical risk factors. This, in turn, can be used to decipher the underlying molecular networks leading to HCC recurrence and identify reliable diagnostic and prognostic molecular biomarkers to develop novel therapeutics for HCC (Figure 1).

Selected publications:

  1. Chen J, Rajasekaran M, Xia H, et al. The microtubule-associated protein PRC1 promotes early recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma in association with the Wnt/β-catenin signalling pathway. Gut. 2016;65:1522–1534.
  2. Han J, Xia H, Wu Y, et al. Single-layer MoS2 nanosheet grafted upconversion nanoparticles for near-infrared
    fluorescence imaging-guided deep tissue cancer phototherapy. Nanoscale. 2016;8:7861–7865.
  3. Xia H, Li F, Hu X, et al. pH-Sensitive Pt nanocluster assembly overcomes cisplatin resistance and heterogeneous stemness of hepatocellular carcinoma. ACS Central Sci. 2016;2:802–811.
  4. Xia H, Kong SN, Chen J, et al. MELK is an oncogenic kinase essential for early hepatocellular carcinoma recurrence. Cancer Lett. 2016;383:85–93.
  5. Nguyen AT, Chia J, Ros M, et al. Organelle-specific O-glycosylation drives MMP14 activation, tumor
    growth, and metastasis. Cancer Cell. 2017;32:639–653.e6.

Lab Unit of Paediatric Brain Tumour Research Office

​Research head:​Asst Professor Wan-Yee TEO (Transition Awardee and Clinician-Scientist Awardee)
​Research team:

​Jia Min HO
Lois HEW Shi Qi

Qian-Wei LIM

Priscilla Chin Sze-Ya (Past Member)

Jung Yi ONG
Joshua WEE Aik Liang

The laboratory unit for the Paediatric Brain Tumour Research Office (PBTRO), SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre was established in 2015, with competitive grants secured. We are a dynamic laboratory unit and have steadily expanded our team and international collaborations over the past few years. Our goal in research is to derive findings that enable a reflective change in the practice of medicine in brain tumours. Our team (PBTRO) shares a common dream to present globally competitive research findings in the field of neurooncology, addressing these areas in the practice of medicine through science. We work on several types of brain tumours, both in paediatric and adult populations. One major research focus of our group is in the brain tumour microenvironment, translating research findings in tumour biology and genomics to bedside benefits for patients with brain tumours. Our research combines genomic methodologies and mouse models to study the complex regulation and developmental biology of brain tumours. We place a large emphasis on the preclinical development of therapeutics for brain tumours that currently have no cures, drawing from various strengths in genomics, high throughput functional assays optimised in our laboratory, and a large, unique cohort of patient-derived orthotopic mouse models of brain tumours developed for preclinical testing.


“Our work focuses on cell culture and utilises molecular techniques to unravel the cell biology behind the drug effects on brain tumours; this is in line with our team goal to discover effective and novel treatments for the benefit of patients.”

“The most important insight I learnt from this internship was realising the tenacity of character required to become a successful researcher. Their passion for their work, and their grit and perseverance constantly inspire me to work hard in my studies knowing that my study now is not as challenging as the lives of these researchers.”

Our Work at Laboratory 609-T, Laboratory Unit of Pediatric Brain Tumour Research Office, SingHealth Duke-NUS Academic Medical Centre

Selected publications:

  1. Teo WY, Elghetany MT, Liu D, et al. Therapeutic implications of CD1d expression and tumorinfiltrating
    macrophages in pediatric medulloblastomas. J Neurooncol. 2014;120:293–301. * Podcast highlight by the journal.
  2. Teo WY, Ross J, Bollo RJ, et al. Atypical location and clinical behavior of nonteratomatous intracranial germ cell
    tumors in children. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2014;25:1–8.
  3. Teo WY, JMF Su, Shen JS, et al. Implications of tumor locations on subtypes of medulloblastoma (Priority Report with Commentary Highlight). Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2013;60:1408–1410.