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Qatar University raises awareness of cancer, promotes early detection

Qatar University raises awareness
of cancer, promotes early detection

Tribune News Network
Qatar University (QU) marks World Cancer Day with the aim to raise awareness of cancer and to educate people about its prevention, detection and treatment.
This year’s World Cancer Day was marked under the theme ‘I can, we ca’”, which acknowledges that everyone has the capacity to address the cancer burden. We all can work together to reduce cancer risk factors. We can overcome barriers to early diagnosis, treatment and palliative care.
Several faculty members shared their sentiments on the day.
Serhiy Souchelnytskyi, professor of Molecular/Cell Biology at College of Medicine QU, said: “Cancer can be treated. For successful treatment, early detection and selection of drugs are essential. We develop tests for improved diagnostic and identification of drugs that would be most helpful for a given patient.
“The application of our tests confirm their clinical value and proves that good science works in clinics. Our cancer research attracted interest for application not only on the Earth but also for the space missions to the Moon and Mars.”
Dr Apostolos Zaravinos, associate professor of Genetics at College of Medicine QU, said: “The deregulated genes in colorectal cancer vary significantly from study to study. We used a systems biology approach to identify the co-deregulated genes (co-DEGs) among a large number of studies, explore their molecular networks and spot the major hub proteins within them.
“We also identified a list of repurposing drugs, including camptothecin and neostigmine bromide that could be used for targeting these co-DEGs. Overall, we highlight the critical genes associated with colorectal cancer and propose repurposing drugs against them.”
Ala-Eddin Al Moustafa, professor of Molecular/Cell Biology at College of Medicine QU, said: “Today, it is well known that high-risk human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are the major cause of cervical cancer. However, their role in human breast cancer is not evident. Thus, in our lab, we explored the presence and role of these on co-viruses in human breast cancer; we found that high-risk HPVs are present in around 50 percent of human breast cancer samples from different countries, including Qatar, Lebanon, Syria, and Canada; and their presence is associated with high-grade tumor phenotype.
“Thus, our studies suggest that HPVs vaccines can be used to prevent the development and/or progression of certain types of human breast cancers. The triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) subtype, which lacks the expression of estrogen, progesterone and ErbB2/HER2 receptors, is very aggressive with limited and inefficient therapy options. Thus, our group from the Colleges of Pharmacy and Medicine developed a new chalcone-based drug against this subtype of cancer, which was recently patented in the USA under the number 16/440,861 and published in the European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. Our lab work has generated a large number of publications in international journals.”
Another professor at College of Health Sciences QU, Zumin Shi, professor of Human Nutrition, said Qatar has a high burden of non-communicable chronic diseases (NCDs), including diabetes and cancer.
Shi said, “Unhealthy dietary habit (e.g. consumption of high energy-dense food and soft drink) is an important risk factor for NCDs. Based on data from Qatar Biobank Study, we found that people with diabetes took medicine, including insulin to control blood glucose but ate more unhealthy food. This bad practice put them at risk for cancer. Promoting healthy eating should be encouraged.”
Dr Hesham M. Korashy, professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of Pharmacy, QU, said: “The College of Pharmacy at Qatar University has significant contribution to cancer research at the national, regional and international levels. Scientists and professors at the College of Pharmacy conduct high-quality applied research aiming to a) better understand the molecular mechanisms of cancer initiation and progression particularly the role of cancer stem cells, b) design and synthesise specific and efficient drug delivery systems, c) discover novel natural anticancer drugs, and d) improve cancer-related health outcomes and the economic burden on the government.”