Single Cell Analysis of Tumor Heterogeneity During Cancer Metastasis

23 February 2022


Professor Michael Yang Mengsu delivered an online distinguished lecture for the Hong Kong Institute for Advanced Study.

Investigating how science can better understand diseases like cancer is essential for our research endeavors at the City University of Hong Kong (CityU). Professor Michael Yang Mengsu, Vice-President (Research & Technology) and Yeung Kin-man Chair Professor of Biomedical Sciences of CityU presented an inaugural online talk titled "Single Cell Analysis of Tumor Heterogeneity During Cancer Metastasis" for the Hong Kong Institute for Advanced Study (HKIAS) Distinguished Lecture at CityU on 18 February 2022.

Tumor metastasis is the primary cause of death for patients with cancer. In his online lecture, Professor Yang discussed his latest research into how biochemical gradients and mechanical constraints regulate cancer cell migration and alter their phenotypes, and how tumor heterogeneity affects cancer cell transition and metastasis.

Metastasis is a dynamic and complex process that involves cancer cells leaving the primary tumor, entering blood circulation, invading a distant organ, and forming a new tumor. According to Professor Yang, understanding the dynamics of this process will help identify targets for molecular therapies that may halt or possibly reverse cancer growth and metastasis

Professor Yang has been working on the microfluidic technique over the years. He featured that this advanced technology can study tumor cell heterogeneity and their migratory behaviors in different microenvironments. Besides, single-cell analysis enables the classification and differentiation of cellular subtypes based on their distinctive molecular signatures and physiological patterns, he continued.

Professor Nikolaus Osterrieder, Dean of Jockey Club College of Veterinary Medicine and Life Sciences of CityU was the moderator.

Professor Yang detailed how his team designed microfluidic structures and channels to modulate the physical, chemical, and mechanical environments surrounding tumor cells by illustrating various recent research results. In particular, he introduced the engineering approach to combine with single-cell analytical techniques, including next-generation sequencing (NGS) and atomic force microscope (AFM), to study the metastasis processes.

In conclusion, Professor Yang highlighted that their research has made continuous effort in understanding the fundamental biology of cancer, especially the cancer migration during metastasis. He believes that their team's discoveries will develop a novel dynamics approach to better control and fight cancer.

The online talk attracted scholars and experts from different parts of the world, as well as academics and students from CityU and other local universities.

Various Chair Professors at CityU discussed on the process of tumor metastasis with Professor Yang via Zoom.

Professor Yang’s research interests focus on studying cancer biology and developing novel technologies for diagnostics and therapeutic applications. Since joining CityU in 1994, he has published over 300 peer-reviewed papers, obtained 33 patents, and trained more than 40 PhD students and 30 postdocs in his laboratory. He has been awarded the K. C. Wong Foundation Award in 2003, the Chunhui Scholar Award by the Ministry of Education in 2004, the Shenzhen Science and Technology Innovation Award in 2006, the Hong Kong Technological Achievement Grand Award in 2007, the Natural Science Award by the Ministry of Education in 2015, and the Wuxi AppTech Life Science and Chemistry Award in 2016.

Besides, Professor Yang holds honorary professorships in Zhejiang University, Army’s Medical University, and Institute of Microsystems of Chinese Academy of Science. He currently also serves in various HKSAR government agencies including the Research Grants Council, the Innovation and Technology Fund, the Health and Medical Research Fund, and the Hong Kong Genome Institute. He has co-founded two biotech companies, Prenetics and Cellomics, based on technologies developed in the university.

This lecture is supported in part by the Kwang Hua Educational Foundation

More information about the lecture, please click here

(Left) Professor Jacob Huang, Executive Director of HKIAS and Chair Professor of Department of Materials Science and Engineering, presented a souvenir to (right) Professor Yang after the talk.

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