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June 28, 2017

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NHRI sees int'l breakthrough in cancer research

The National Health Research Institutes (NHRI, 國家衛生研究院) yesterday released their latest research findings, which have been hailed as an international breakthrough in cancer research.

The NHRI revealed that they have discovered and mapped the ASPM DNA strand, which serves as the main factor that dictates the metastasis of gland cancers. As proven with animal trials, the NHRI stated that through the suppression of the ASPM, the growth of activity and the number of cancer stem cells (CSCs) could also be restrained.

The restraining of CSC activity and growth could completely halt the growth and spread of tumors and has since been observed to be effective in combating gland related cancers such as pancreatic cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer.

The discovery was the result of a four-year effort by a research team at NHRI's National Institute of Cancer Research. Led by associate investigator and attending physician Kelvin Tsai (蔡坤志), the discovery has been hailed as an international breakthrough from Taiwan.

Aside from resection through early discovery, most gland cancer tumors are not curable nor the tumors surgically removable, said Tsai. Not only is molecularly targeted therapy effective in only a few certain cases, chemotherapy and radiation therapy have are recorded to have a treatment response rate of only one in three. The efficiency of the treatment is also relatively short, with high rates of recurrence, said Tsai.

However, animal trials have proven that through control over the ASPM DNA stand, tumors will no longer spread nor experience growth. The control will also eradicate the possibility of metastasis without the toxic damage the body suffers under chemotherapy.

In the case of pancreatic cancer, the only effective clinical medication has been proven to prolong a patient's life for just two weeks, said Tsai. But through treatment with ASPM, pancreatic tumors could be completely suppressed without the toxic side effects from chemo.

Tsai is reportedly in the process of conducting large scale pre-clinical trial research in hopes of developing new molecularly targeted therapy drugs against CSCs.

Aside from molecularly targeted therapy medications, the research team is also developing molecular diagnosis methods centered on ASPM. The method could evaluate the progress of tumor differentiation and tumor activity in gland related CSCs, which could accurately assess the recurrence and survival rates of gland cancer patients.

The National Institute of Cancer Research of the NHRI has stated that following the global patenting of the research results, the institute is currently seeking cooperation with foreign and local Biotech companies and pharmaceutical cooperation to develop the ASPM medications and molecular diagnosis methods. However, as the development of new drugs is always a long process, it will be ten years before developments are completed and available to the world.

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