News Feature | July 10, 2014

Singapore's First Breast Cancer Cell Bank Started By CSI

By Estel Grace Masangkay

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The Cancer Science Institute of Singapore (CSI) announced that it has started the first University-based Breast Cancer Cell Bank in the country with the aim of fostering greater understanding of the disease and its potential treatments.

The cell bank will store primary culture tumor cell lines from breast cancer patients in Singapore and enable local and regional cancer research centers in the country to access them as needed.

According to the Singapore Cancer Society, cancer is the leading cause of death among Singaporeans. Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer at 29.4 percent and the top cause of death due to cancer at 17.9 percent in Singapore women. An estimated 8,500 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. Even so, no lab tested models of the disease exist in the country to accurately and fairly represent breast cancer in Asians.

Historically, Asia had the lowest incidences of breast cancer around the world. However the incidence of Asian women being diagnosed with breast cancer in recent years has been climbing, attributed to the westernization of diet and lifestyle of Asians. Dr. Pieter Eichhorn, Lead Principal Investigator at the CSI and Assistant Professor at the Department of Pharmacology at NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, said, “Through this initiative, we aim to design therapies that will benefit all breast cancer sufferers and particularly focusing on Asian patient populations.” Around the world, scientists have identified around 150 breast cancer lines, and about 25 of these are receiving the most of research work being led in the field.

Using the breast cancer cell sample repository at the facility, research teams at the CSI will try to determine effective drug combinations that will overcome treatment resistance over time. CSI stated that its goal is to collect 25 unique breast cancer cell samples by 2015 in order to establish the Breast Cancer Cell Bank as a research center for both Singaporean and international researchers.

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