A/Prof Ti Lian Kah | National University Hospital (NUH); Dr Loh Ne-Hooi Will (NUH); Adj A/Prof Sophia Chew Tsong Huey. Co-I (SGH); A/Prof Tan Ker Kan, Co-I (NUH)
Competition Sponsor: Ministry of Health and National Research Foundation of Singapore
Awardee year: 2022
After 60 years of age, our immune system dramatically changes in a process called “immunosenescence”. In some of us, we gradually lose the ability to fight infections and our wounds take longer to heal. Conversely in others, the immune system is over-active. In surgery, the immune response is essential to help fight off infections and promote wound healing. However, the immune system cannot differentiate surgery (ideally eliciting a modest response) from infections and cancer, which produces an exaggerated response that can potentially damage organs and slow recovery. In patients undergoing colorectal cancer surgery, an exaggerated immune response increases the risk of infection and failure of the intestine to heal.
We intend to recruit 80 patients scheduled to undergo surgery for colorectal cancer and test their blood to see if they are likely to have this exaggerated immune response. If they are, we will then randomize them to receive either a supplement that reduces the immune response or placebo before surgery. We will measure their immune response after surgery using biomarkers. With this, we hope to show that by identifying the patients at risk of an exaggerated immune response, we can selectively treat them and prevent this potentially harmful response.