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Laboratory of Molecular Oncology

​Research head:​A/Prof Ann LEE
​Research team:

Dr Melissa Hum
Lee Ning Yuan
Lim Wei Kiat

The Laboratory of Molecular Oncology is a translational cancer research laboratory. We collaborate with clinicians, clinician-scientists and scientists from hospitals, universities and research institutions across Singapore. In addition, we have established collaborative projects with industry partners, funded by competitive grants.

Our research focusses on:

  1. The discovery of blood-based biomarkers for the early detection of breast cancer and the development of these biomarkers for use in blood-based assays.
  2. The deciphering of genetic changes associated with cancer predisposition.

Our interest in biomarker discovery has led to the identification of circulating microRNA signatures for breast cancer which can potentially be developed as blood-based assays for the early detection of breast cancer. In addition, our cancer genetic studies have identified novel genetic variations, with some being associated with increased cancer risk.

Among our key research findings, our research group has:

  • Identified new breast cancer risk variants using a novel next-generation sequencing strategy
  • Developed polygenic risk score models for the prediction of breast cancer risk
  • Identified PALB2 mutations in our Singaporean patients and recommended that PALB2 be included in genetic testing for individuals eligible for BRCA1 and BRCA2 testing
  • Recommended that screening for the CHEK2*1100delC mutation in Asian women with a family history of breast cancer is unwarranted, in contrast to recommendations for such screening in Northern or Eastern European women
  • Reported on the identification of a BRCA1 founder mutation among Malay breast cancer patients
  • Identified circulating microRNA signatures for breast cancer detection, using blood samples

Our group has published in international journals such as Lancet Oncology, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Cancer Research, Clinical Cancer Research and Oncogene. Our research work is funded primarily by competitive grants from the National Medical Research Council (NMRC) of Singapore and Industry Alignment Funds (IAF-ICP and IAF-PP), with support from the NCC Research and Cancer Funds.

Figure 1. Strategy used for the development of a biomarker panel for breast cancer (Adapted from Cancers (Basel) (2021) 13(9):2130. doi: 10.3390/cancers13092130. PMID: 33925125)

Selected Publications (* = corresponding author)

  1. Zou R, Loke SY, Tan VK, Quek ST, Jagmohan P, Tang YC, Madhukumar P, Tan BK, Yong WS, Sim Y, Lim SZ, Png E, Lee SYS, Chan MYP, Ho TSJ, Khoo BKJ, Wong SLJ, Thng CH, Chong BK, Teo YY, Too HP, Hartman M, Tan NC, Tan EY, Lee SC, Zhou L*, Lee ASG*. Development of a microRNA Panel for Classification of Abnormal Mammograms for Breast Cancer. Cancers (Basel) 2021 13:2130. Journal Impact Factor 2020 (IF): 6.639
  2. Yang X, Leslie G, Doroszuk A … Lee ASG, et al. Cancer risks associated with germline PALB2 pathogenic variants - an international study of 524 families. J Clin Oncol (2020) 38:674-685. IF: 44.544
  3. Loke SY, Munusamy P, Koh GL, Chan CHT, Madhukumar P, Thung JL, Tan KTB, Ong KW, Yong WS, Sim Y, Oey CL, Lim SZ, Chan MYP, Ho TSJ, Khoo BKJ, Wong SLJ, Thng CH, Chong BK, Tan EY, Tan VK, Lee ASG*. A circulating miRNA signature for stratification of breast lesions among women with abnormal screening mammograms. Cancers (Basel) (2019) 11:1872. IF: 6.639
  4. Prawira A, Munusamy P, Yuan J, Chan CHT, Koh GL, Shuen TWH, Hu J, Yap YS, Tan MH, Ang P, Lee ASG*. Assessment of PARP4 as a Candidate Breast Cancer Susceptibility Gene. Breast Cancer Res Treat (2019) 177:145-153. IF: 4.872
  5. Chan CHT, Munusamy P, Loke SY, Koh GL, Yang AZY, Law HY, Yoon CS, Wong CY, Yong WS, Wong NS, Ng RCH, Ong KW, Madhukumar P, Oey CL, Ho GH, Tan PH, Tan MH, Ang P, Yap YS, Lee ASG*. Evaluation of three polygenic risk score models for the prediction of breast cancer risk in Singapore Chinese. Oncotarget (2018) 9:12796–12804. IF: 5.168
  6. Yuan J, Ng WH, Lam PYP, Wang Y, Xia H, Yap J, Guan SP, Lee ASG, Wang M, Baccarini M, Hu J. The dimer-dependent catalytic activity of RAF family kinases is revealed through characterizing their oncogenic mutants. Oncogene (2018) 37:5719-5734. IF: 9.867
  7. Yap YS, Munusamy P, Lim C, Chan CHT, Prawira A, Loke SY, Lim SH, Ong KW, Yong WS, Ng SBH, Tan IBH, Callen DF, Lim JCT, Thike AA, Tan PH, Lee ASG*. Breast cancer in women with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1): a comprehensive case series with molecular insights into its aggressive phenotype. Breast Cancer Res and Treat (2018) 171:719-735. IF: 4.872
  8. Loke SY and Lee ASG*. The future of blood-based biomarkers for the early detection of breast cancer. Eur J Cancer (2018) 92:54-68. [Review] IF: 9.162
  9. Chan CHT, Munusamy P, Loke SY, Koh GL, Wong ESY, Law HY, Yoon CS, Tan MH, Yap YS, Ang P and Lee ASG*. Identification of Novel Breast Cancer Risk Loci. Cancer Res (2017) 77:5428-5437. IF: 12.531
  10. Wong ESY, Shekar S, Met-Domestici M, Chan C, Sze M, Yap YS, Rozen SG, Tan MH, Ang P, Ngeow J*, Lee ASG*. Inherited breast cancer predisposition in Asians: multigene panel testing outcomes from Singapore. npj Genom Med. (2016) 1:15003. IF: 8.617
  11. Lee AS*, Ang P. Breast-cancer risk in families with mutations in PALB2. N Engl J Med (2014) 371:1650-1. [Letter]. IF: 91.245
  12. Chan M, Liaw CS, Ji SM, Tan HH, Wong CY, Thike AA, Tan PH, Ho GH, Lee AS*. Identification of circulating microRNA signatures for breast cancer detection. Clin Cancer Res (2013) 19:4477–4487. IF: 12.531