Malaysia Scores Big in International Oncology Conference

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia’s clinical research fraternity accomplished global recognition, when several of the international clinical studies participated by Malaysian oncologists were featured in the recently held European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Congress in Madrid, Spain. The ESMO Congress is a highly influential oncology platform that is held annually, presenting the latest data in oncology research and clinical management as well as sharing ground-breaking cancer treatments.

Key highlights in the congress were the proffered paper presentations during presidential sessions, among which Dr Muthukkumaran Thiagarajan (Clinical Oncologist from Hospital Kuala Lumpur) and Dr Adlinda Alip (Clinical Oncologist from University Malaya Medical Centre) were named the co-authors in two Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) studies.Both studies presented superior results of the respective trial treatment, establishing these treatments as first-in-line treatment for NSCLC with specific mutations. In addition, at least two other studies involving Malaysian oncologists were presented during the oral presentation sessions held at the ESMO Congress 2023.

Oncology research has been the focus of research and development of international pharmaceutical and biotech companies, comprising 38 per cent of global research programs and recording the highest expansion rate yearly compared to other disease areas. In Malaysia, approximately 20 per cent of over 2000 sponsored research conducted are in oncology, driving opportunities for cancer patients in local hospitals to access emerging trial therapies of novel checkpoints through participation in clinical trials.

Clinical Research Malaysia (CRM), a Global Trusted Research Management Organisation by the Health Ministry (MoH) have been spearheading efforts to bring new trials into Malaysia, and accelerating clinical trial delivery through speed, quality, and reliability. Since 2021, CRM has enabled the setup of the early phase First-in-Human (FiH) clinical research ecosystem in Malaysia though the completion of its Phase 1 Realisation Project (P1RP).This year, the country’s first FIH study was conducted, involving a first-in-class trial therapy for patients with advance solid tumours. Findings from this study were featured in the AACR-NCI-EORTC International Conference 2023 in Boston last month, whereby Dr Voon Pei Jye, Medical Oncologist from Sarawak General Hospital became the first Malaysian to co-author a FIH global multicentre clinical trial, placing Malaysia alongside world top-ranking cancer institutes.

CRM has also been at the forefront in engaging with international organisations to explore opportunities in bringing emerging trial therapies into the country. In addition to the engagements held in the ESMO Congress and other international meets, CRM also participated in the Global Partner Consultation Program organised by Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Canada, which included the participation of Dr Ros Suzanna Ahmad Bustamam (Head of Service for Oncology and Radiotherapy, Health Ministry and Head of Oncology and Radiotherapy, Hospital Kuala Lumpur). Outcomes from this meet were towards collaborative training and development opportunities for Malaysia’s clinical research fraternity, focused on early phase oncology.

With this year already breaking records of new trials recorded in the country (245 new clinical studies up till last month), CRM is steadfast in positioning Malaysia as the preferred hub for clinical research in the region. The prime focus remains to be oncology research, in bringing innovative developing therapies to the country that help address the unmet needs of patients in Malaysia.