The development of resistance to cytotoxic or targeted therapy in a cancer patient greatly limits the effectiveness of available anticancer therapies. A variety of mechanisms of resistance have been identified including enhanced drug metabolism, drug efflux from cancer cells and activation of alternative survival pathways. Recently dynamic chromatin modifications have been identified as a key determinant in the maintenance of subpopulations of cancer cells with high-level resistance to cytotoxic therapy. Dr Ma’s research focuses on understanding how epigenetic drugs may be used to reverse chemotherapy resistance.
Recent experimental studies have also shown that epigenetic drugs can have potent immunomodulating effects and Yuk Ting is also studying the immune responses in patients following treatment, and ultimately whether this may be modulated with epigenetic drugs.