Hon Leong, Ph.D., conducts translational research on prostate, kidney, bladder and testicular cancers (urogenital malignancies) and aims to invent technology that will improve how patients with these cancers are clinically managed.
- Patient tumor avatars to maximize drug therapy benefits in patients. High-powered, patient-derived xenografts (PDXs) are made from the tumors of patients with kidney and bladder cancers. Drug sensitivity and resistance results are obtained within 10 days. Clinical trials are underway to evaluate panels of systemic therapies in patients with metastatic kidney cancer and localized bladder cancer.
- Next-generation blood tests to accurately identify patients with high-risk prostate cancer. Nanotechnology is relied upon to rapidly and accurately diagnose prostate cancer and determine which patients have aggressive disease. This is accomplished without the use of genomics technologies, focusing on the behavioral qualities of prostate cancer rather than the genetic blueprint of the cancer.
- Discovery of novel drugs that target the behavior of metastatic cancer and its origins. Entire tumors are engrafted and studied to understand what regions of the primary tumor lead to metastasis. Intravital imaging and novel models of metastasis are used to study the behavior of these metastatic cancer cells, and drugs are designed to halt the spread of these rogue cells.
Significance to patient care
Many drug options are available but clinicians often do not have the right biomarkers to prescribe the right drug to the right patient. Dr. Leong's patient avatar systems enable clinicians to personalize drug treatment schedules within 10 days, with the goal of maximizing overall survival.
Nanotechnology is also being used to improve early detection of high-risk prostate cancer and other urogenital cancers. This will eliminate unnecessary biopsies and treatments and relieve cancer-related anxiety for patients with no cancer, and intensify treatment for those who need it most.
- Recipient, New Investigator Award, Kidney Foundation of Canada, 2016-2018
- Recipient, Rising Star award, Prostate Cancer Canada, 2016-2018
- Recipient, Rising Star award, Prostate Cancer Canada, 2013-2015
- Postdoctoral fellowship, Prostate Cancer Research Program, Department of Defense, 2011-2012
- Postdoctoral fellowship, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, 2009-2011