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Three IMU Researchers Awarded the Malaysia Toray Science Foundation (MTSF) Grant

23 Oct 2014

Three International Medical University (IMU) researchers secured the prestigious Malaysia Toray Science Foundation (MTSF) Grant this year. The three recipients are Dr Felicia Chung Fei Lei (Institute for Research, Development and Innovation – IRDI, IMU), Tiong Yee Lian (PhD student at IMU), and Teo Siew Yong (MSc student at IMU). Each of the researchers is awarded a grant of RM20,000. Dr Felicia Chung, who is a lecturer from the School of Postgraduate Studies, IRDI, will be working on the effectors that can turn off the GATA4 gene. Many human diseases are developed when the GATA4 gene is turned off (silenced) or becomes “over active”. Dr Felicia is particularly working on the identification of the cellular factors involved in the silencing of GATA4 gene in colorectal cancer cells. Targeting these factors could be a potential treatment strategy for colorectal cancer. A PhD candidate from IMU, Tiong Yee Lian,, is conducting research on Schwann cell (cells in peripheral nerves) proliferation induced by melatonin (a hormone that puts us to sleep) via expression of glial cell-derived neurotrophic factor, a protein responsible for the growth and survival of developing nerve cells. Peripheral nerve injuries (PNI) are often caused by accidents, surgery and disease which lead to disability on affected part of organ or paralysis in severe cases. Studies have strongly suggested that Schwann cells and glial-cell derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) play an important role in PNI recovery. Proliferation of melatonin which stimulates cell proliferation in various cell types is brought about by GDNF expression. Thus, Ms. Tiong is investigating the effect of melatonin in stimulating Schwann cell proliferation via GDNF expression and identifying the genes and proteins involved. It provides a better understanding of the beneficial effect of melatonin in following PNI and also introduces a possible therapeutic manner for PNI-induced functional disability. Teo Siew Yong, an IMU Masters candidate, is studying on the synthesis and characterisation of novel alkyds as advanced biomaterials for various biomedical and pharmaceutical applications. Alkyds are oil modified polyesters which are extensively used in industry in paints, inks, adhesives and various coating applications. However, there is no information on alkyds as biomaterials to replace any tissue, organ or function of the body. Hence, Mr. Teo will be synthesising novel alkyds from biological sources that have an established record of safety as excipients in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals. Detailed physicochemical characterization, stability evaluation and in vitro biocompatibility testing will be carried out. This study will provide the first insight into the potential of novel alkyds as advanced biomaterials for various biomedical and pharmaceutical applications. The Malaysia Toray Science Foundation was established in 1993 through a RM4 million endowment by Toray Industries, Inc., Japan. The Foundation is registered with and recognized by the Malaysian authority as an organization formed to promote and advance science and technology in Malaysia. The objective of the Foundation is to contribute to the progress of Science and Technology in Malaysia particularly for the fields of natural sciences.

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