Awards & Achievements

Thuya Win Lwin, CSI Graduate Student, Wins Best Poster Presentation Award at Pharm@Asia Symposium

Congratulations to Mr Thuya Win Lwin, graduate student from Prof Goh Boon Cher’s group at CSI Singapore, for winning the AAPS-NUS Best Poster Presentation Award at the PharmSci@Asia symposium!

The PharmSci@Asia symposium is a joint annual symposium by the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientist (AAPS) – National University of Singapore (NUS) Student Chapter. It serves as a platform where research scientists and students are able to share research advances in the area of pharmacy science.

The PharmSci@Asia symposium 2016 was held from 14-16 June at the Taipei Medical University in Taiwan, and Thuya’s abstract titled ‘FAM3C in Plasma Exosome as a Novel Circulating Biomarker for Lung Cancer Diagnosis’ was awarded for being the best poster presentation.

FAM3C in Plasma Exosome as a Novel Circulating Biomarker for Lung Cancer Diagnosis

Win Lwin Thuya 1, 2, Ross A. Soo 2, 3, Lingzhi Wang 2, 4, Boon Cher Goh 2, 3, 4, Paul Chi-Lui Ho 1

1 Department of Pharmacy, National University of Singapore, Singapore
2 Cancer Science Institute of Singapore, National University of Singapore, Singapore
3 Department of Hematology-Oncology, National University Health System
4 Department of Pharmacology, National University of Singapore, Singapore

OBJECTIVE: The discovery of biofluid-based non-invasive biomarkers for lung cancer is urgently needed to complement low-dose computed tomography (LDCT)-based screening.

METHODS: Proteomic analysis of lung cancer cell-derived exosomes was conducted. Western blot, ELISA and immunohistochemistry (IHC) and transwell co-culture system were used for functional studies of FAM3C. NSCLC patients and healthy subjects’ plasma samples were used for validation of FAM3C as a novel lung cancer in vivo biomarker.

RESULTS: A total of 2983 proteins were identified from four cell lines-derived exosomes, yielding an average of ~1500 proteins in each line. Importantly, current lung cancer protein biomarkers such as CEA, CYFRA 21-1, CA-125 and NSE were also detected in our identifications. FAM3C was among the top 20 potential proteins highly expressed in cancer cell exosomes and chosen for further validation. In functional studies, suppression of FAM3C expression using shRNA knockdown in SKMES-1 cells resulted in significant reduction of cancer cell invasion and migration which were supported by the changes of EMT markers. In addition, the FAM3C knockdown cells showed reduced cell proliferation, colony formation and enhanced chemosensitivity to cisplatin. The co-culture results suggested that exosomes could serve as messengers in intercellular communication to promote metastasis in H460 cells. IHC results showed granular FAM3C staining was significantly associated with improved lung cancer specific survival in squamous cell carcinoma patients (median: not reached vs 19.5 months, p = 0.021; 95% CI: 9.2-28.8). ELISA assay revealed that plasma exosome FAM3C was significantly elevated in NSCLC patients (n=78) compared to healthy subjects (n=78) (p<0.0001) with an area under the curve of 0.831, 95% CI: 0.770-0.893. Plasma Exosome FAM3C has a sensitivity of 0.756 and a specificity of 0.744.

CONCLUSIONS: Together, exosome FAM3C has been identified in our study as the best single diagnostic biomarker for lung cancer diagnosis.