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TVNZ 1NewsNow (1 Mar 2019): Scientists closer to bringing tool to guide clinical decision making for treating breast cancer to the market
Survivor and Breast Cancer Cure trustee Fay Sowerby spoke to TVNZ1’s Breakfast about Associate Professor Dong-Xu Liu's findings published in the British Journal of Cancer. Source: Breakfast.
NZ Herald (28 Feb 2019): NZ study helps doctors predict best treatment for breast cancer patients
AUT University Associate Professor Dong-Xu Liu's research could help predict the best treatment for breast cancer patients.The 2016 Merck KGaA Grant for Oncology Innovation (GOI) Award: https://www.grantforoncologyinnovation.org/en/goi2016/winners.html
AUT University Associate Professor Dong-Xu Liu (left) was one of the only three 2016 GOI award winners.
Membership of Professional Organizations
Reviewer for Journals including Cancer Research (AACR Journals); Clinical Cancer Research (AACR Journals); Molecular Cancer Therapeutics (AACR Journals); Oncogene; Scientific Reports; Endocrinology; New Zealand Medical Journal; Trends in Cancer, and so on.
Dr Liu's laboratory currently focuses on the identification of diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers for breast cancer, and the development of therapeutic agents that target specific growth factors or molecules involved in cancer growth and progression. His work has attracted much attention in the area of anticancer drug development. He has been invited to give plenary talks at national and international conferences and present his work at many research institutes and universities. He has active collaboration with researchers in other universities and organizations around the world. Through collaboration with Prof. Ian Ellis and Dr Andrew Green, world well-known breast cancer pathologists at the Nottingham City Hospital, he has access to the Breast Cancer Now Tissue Bank of United Kingdom - the world’s largest breast cancer tissue bank with a collection of more than 2,000 breast cancer tissues, which facilitates the translation of pre-clinical laboratory advances into clinical practice. By analysing the expression of SHON protein (one of the oncoproteins he identified and named) in a cohort of 1,650 breast cancer tissue samples, he demonstrated that SHON was a potential biomarker for predicting patient response to anti-estrogen therapy. This finding itself was very exciting and had a very significant clinical significance because anti-estrogen therapy is the mainstay of treatments for three quarters of breast cancer patients whose tumour are ER positive, but up to 50% of these patients do not response due to drug resistance. SHON thus has the potential utility in selecting the right patients for such treatments, avoiding giving ineffective treatments to non-responders. This work was published in the prestigious oncology journal Cancer Research (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-13-0982), which is the most highly cited cancer journal in the world and published by the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). His work was highly regarded by both the editors and the reviewers, being commented as “an outstanding manuscript” and “the authors should be commended on producing this manuscript”. His lab is now working to understand how SHON drives the progression of breast cancer and to commercialise the SHON biomarker in anti-estrogen therapy.
In collaboration with Prof. Steve Chan at the Nottingham City Hospital, a mega analysis of more than 10,000 clinical breast cancer samples has identified that a gene, called SPAG5 (sperm associated antigen 5) and also known as astrin, is a novel chemotherapy biomarker and a potential therapeutic target: 1) amplification/gain of the SPAG5 locus at Ch17q11·2 was found in about 20% of all breast cancers; 2) the SPAG5-gene-copy number aberrations and its transcript and protein were associated with poor clinical outcome and adverse clinicopathological features, including TP53-mutation, PAM50-LumB, and PAM50-HER2; and 3) both high expression of SPAG5 mRNA transcript and protein are independent predictors for response to chemotherapy. These findings have been published in the Lancet Oncology journal (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(16)00174-1), together with a commentary report titled "SPAG5: the ultimate marker of proliferation in early breast cancer?" by François Bertucci, Patrice Viens, and Daniel Birnbaum (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(16)30092-4). The Lancet Oncology journal has an impact factor of 36.418 in 2017 and ranks third out of 202 oncology journals worldwide, is the leading clinical research journal in oncology, and is in the top 0.5% of all scientific journals, of any discipline, globally.
In the past 18 years he has taken part in quite a number of commercial projects involving the identification of therapeutic targets for cancer. As an inventor, he holds 14 international patents for potential therapeutic targets for cancer. He was one of the two founding scientists of Saratan Therapeutics Ltd, a biotech entity focused on the development of therapeutics to novel cancer target molecules. He has recently signed a contract with a Singapore biocompany to look at the possibility to use SHON as a blood biomarker for early diagnosis of breast cancer.
As a principal investigator and research scientist, Dr Liu has proven experience and expertise in most areas of molecular and cellular oncology and is familiar with many techniques. He has supervised/co-supervised 12 BSc (honours), 6 MSc and 16 PhD students. Although translational/commercial research limited his academic outputs, he has 55 publications in prestigious journals such as Cancer Research (2017 impact factor 9.130), Lancet Oncology (36.418), Oncogene (6.854), Cell Death & Differentiation (8.000), Molecular Cancer Research (4.597), Endocrinology (3.961), Molecular Cancer Therapeutics (5.365), Neoplasia (4.994), The Journal of Biological Chemistry (4.010), Breast Cancer Research (6.142), International Journal of Cancer (7.360), Cancer Letter (6.491), and Scientific Reports-UK (4.122).
Dr Liu’s research has been funded by the New Zealand Government and charitable trusts including the Margaret Morley Medical Trust, the Maurice & Phyllis Paykel Trust, the Kelliher Charitable Trust. He has won several prestigious research grants from the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation, the Breast Cancer Cure Trust, the Auckland Medical Research Foundation, the Health Research Council (HRC) of New Zealand and the Lottery Health Research of New Zealand. In 2016, he won one of the three winners of the Merck KGaA Grant for Oncology Innovation (GOI), which was announced during the 2016 ESMO Congress in Copenhagen, Denmark (http://www.grantforoncologyinnovation.org). The three GOI winners were selected from 405 applications from 49 countries across the globe and Dr Liu was the only winner who is from outside of the European region since the establishment of the Grant.
Current Research Projects
AUT offers a variety of scholarships to both domestic and international students who want to do a postgraduate degree at AUT. More information on available scholarships can be found here: Scholarships and awards at AUT.
AUT-China Scholarship Council (CSC) scholarships: Top students from China are eligible to apply for these AUT-CSC scholarships. Students who receive a scholarship will be provided with a living allowance, return airfare to New Zealand, student visa fees, and the cost of health insurance for international students.
Prospective students are encouraged to discuss with Dr Liu about their research interests in breast cancer research before applying for any scholarships.
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