• Joint study between cancer researchers and genomic medicine company to expand clinical database that classifies breast and gynaecological cancer mutations in Asian women across all ethnicities. 
  • Data can help to improve genetic testing services to provide more accurate diagnosis and enhance treatment selection. 
Singapore, 26th July 2018

The National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) and Lucence Diagnostics will collaborate on a three-year study involving 300 patients to improve genetic testing of breast and gynaecological cancers for Asian women. 

This study aims to develop a comprehensive database of genetic mutations, or variants, that are associated with hereditary breast and gynaecological cancers across all ethnicities in the region. This will help doctors to more accurately identify women who may be predisposed to breast or gynaecological cancer through genetic testing. It will also lead to enhanced clinical diagnosis and more precise treatments. 

This clinical database will be the first to focus on the Asian populations and will be an invaluable resource for doctors and genetic counsellors attending to high-risk individuals of two of the most common women’s cancers in Singapore. Breast cancer is the leading cancer among women across all ethnic groups. It is diagnosed in almost one in three women here and is the leading cause of cancer deaths. Ovarian cancer, a type of gynaecological cancer, accounts for the fifth most common cancer among women. 

The partnership will leverage on NCCS’ expertise in expanding the database for classification of variants for clinical use, and Lucence’s expertise in DNA sequencing and genomic data analysis. This study is supported by the A*STAR Industry Alignment Fund – Industry Collaboration Projects (IAF-ICP) grant.

“NCCS is pleased to see that this IAF-ICP grant of close to S$1.5m is allowing us to expand our work in hereditary breast cancer genetics. Professor Ann Lee is a leading researcher in the area of hereditary breast cancer genetics. She has uncovered many novel variants involved in breast cancer risk in Asian women and we are excited to capitalise on her strengths in this study,” said Professor William Hwang, Medical Director, NCCS. 
In this collaboration, Lucence will obtain blood samples from 300 patients with a personal or family history of breast and/or gynaecological cancer, or early onset of breast cancer. Upon extracting the DNA from the samples, a DNA sequencing technology known as “next-generation sequencing” (NGS) will be performed. Genetic variants that are identified from NGS will be evaluated for cancer risks. NCCS will then construct a database of all the identified variants incorporating information from its existing database, for the classification of variants for clinical use. This study is expected to be completed in three years’ time. 

“Lucence is excited to be a part of this public-private partnership with NCCS to help Asian women better identify their hereditary risk of breast and gynaecological cancers. It's known that Asian genetics are underrepresented in most conventional genetic tests. As a genomic medicine company with operations in the region, Lucence is focused on using our expertise and understanding of Asian cancers to fight cancer. This new study will help us to discover new genetic variants predisposing women to cancer and improve genetic testing for the Asian populations,” said Dr Tan Min-Han, Founder and CEO, Lucence Diagnostics.

Associate Professor Ann Lee, Principal Investigator, Division of Medical Sciences, NCCS said “This combined effort has enabled NCCS to develop capabilities in data analysis that auger well for our future research. I am grateful to all the participants of our projects, my colleagues at NCCS, Dr Peter Ang, Visiting Consultant Medical Oncologist, and Dr Yap Yoon Sim, Senior Consultant Medical Oncologist, for their partnership in securing research grants, and the many doctors and scientists who have contributed towards these projects.” 

The team hopes to use these data to develop better services for the early detection and prevention of cancer among women who are at high risk due to their family history. The data would also be helpful to determine if a patient may respond better to specific targeted therapy rather than standard chemotherapy which has undesirable side effects.

There is also great potential to use the same pipelines for other Asian hereditary cancers, such as colorectal cancer. 

Besides the collaboration with Lucence, NCCS partners with a number of international research institutions in conducting studies relating to cancer genetics. These researches are aimed at understanding how the identified gene mutations lead to disease through functional studies and global data sharing. 

“We are glad to collaborate with Dr Tan Min-Han, who is also a Visiting Consultant with the NCCS. This database of Asian variants would be a very valuable resource to the industry, as well as to the NCCS’ Cancer Genetics Service (CGS),” Professor Hwang added. 

The CGS, which is headed by Dr Joanne Ngeow, a Senior Consultant Medical Oncologist at the NCCS, provides patients with comprehensive cancer genetics services and is aimed at improving clinical care quality of life for our patients and their at-risk family members. 

About National Cancer Centre Singapore
National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) provides a holistic and multi-disciplinary approach to cancer treatment and patient care. We see close to 65 per cent of the public sector oncology cases, and they are benefiting from the sub-specialisation of our clinical oncologists.  NCCS is also accredited by the US-based Joint Commission International for its quality patient care and safety. To deliver among the best in cancer treatment and care, our clinicians work closely with our scientists who conduct robust cutting-edge clinical and translational research programmes which are internationally recognised.  NCCS will also launch its Proton Beam Therapy programme at its new centre. NCCS strives to be a global leading cancer centre, and shares its expertise and knowledge by offering training to local and overseas medical professionals. www.nccs.com.sg

About Lucence Diagnostics
Lucence Diagnostics is a genomic medicine company focused on inventing advanced cancer diagnostics to improve cancer care. Headquartered in Singapore with offices in Hong Kong and the US, Lucence invents genetic tests that enable earlier cancer diagnosis and better treatment selections. Lucence’s tests target the most common cancers in the world based on its patented sequencing technology and in-house clinical analytics. Its key operations are supported by an ISO15189 accredited molecular diagnostics laboratory and a clinical cancer genetics medical center. www.lucencedx.com

For media queries and clarifications, please contact:

National Cancer Centre Singapore 
Ms Rachel Tan
Manager, Corporate Communications
Office: 6236 9535
Email: rachel.tan.c.h@nccs.com.sg

Ms Gillian Tan
Senior Executive, Corporate Communications
Office: 6236 9529
Email: gillian.tan@nccs.com.sg

Lucence Diagnostics
Ms Elena Tan
Director, Communications
Email: elena.tan@lucencedx.com.sg