Posted on December 10, 2015

The College of Medicine of Qatar University co-organized the 5th Annual Meeting of the Middle East Association for Cancer Research (MEACR) with Gaziantep University (GAU) titled “Cancer Disease from Basic Science to Clinic”. The conference was held on November 28 & 29 in Gaziantep, Turkey and it brought together clinicians and cancer scientists in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region as well as the rest or the world to network and share their research and experiences on a wide range of topics related to human cancers.

The conference brought presenters and researchers from Qatar, Turkey, Pakistan, Iran, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia in addition to the UAS and Canada as well as 50 graduate students from the MENA region were among the conference participants. The presenters also included four faculty members from Qatar University. Prof. Ala-Eddin Al Moustafa, Founder and Director of the MEACR, has stated in the opening ceremony of the meeting: MEACR was established five years ago as the first association in the Middle East to address cancer research and therapy, bringing together cancer scientists and oncologists from the MENA region together with their colleagues from leading educational institutions worldwide.

In order to help achieve this mission, the executive committee members of the MEACR decided to hold a meeting in a different MENA country each year, to provide equal opportunity for all researchers and oncologists in this region and help them build a collaborative base with various universities and institutions. Therefore, previous MEACR annual meetings were held at Aleppo University (Aleppo-Syria), Tanta University (Tanta, Egypt), Sfax Biotechnology Institute (Sfax, Tunisia), Mohammed V University (Rabat, Morocco) and in collaboration with Cadi Ayyad University (Marrakech, Morocco). This year, our meeting was held at Gaziantep University (Gaziantep, Turkey). At the end of his speech, Prof. Al Moustafa declared that the sixth annual meeting of the MEACR will be held at Qatar University in the first week of December 2016.

On the other hand, the University Rector of GAU, Prof. Yavuz Coskun, gave a speech in the opening ceremony in which he presented a brief information about GAU and its faculty of Medicine; meanwhile, he encouraged the faculty members of GAU to collaborate with colleague members of the MEACR and especially QU faculty members. Thus, Prof. Ala-Eddin Al Moustafa (Faculty member of the College of Medicine of QU) and Prof. Ayman El-Kadi (Dean of College of Pharmacy of QU) met with the University Rector of GAU, Prof. Yavuz Coskun, and Prof. Nizar Akil, the previous president of Aleppo University, where they planned to initiate an active collaboration, related to human cancer research, between QU and GAU.

In this conference four faculty members from QU presented their research. The Dean of the College of Pharmacy Prof. Ayman O. El-Kadi discussed the ‘Natural aryl hydrocarbon receptor antagonists as potential therapeutic modalities against cancer’ elucidating how Aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) antagonists have been proposed as promising anticancer drugs. From the College of Medicine of QU Dr. Ala-Eddin Al Moustafa presented a paper titled “Onco-Viruses & Human Breast Cancer”. Dr. Al Moustafa presented an overview of the presence and role of HPV and EBV viruses in human breast cancer. In addition, he talked about his recent data on HPV and EBV in breast cancer in the Canadian and Syrian population

Prof. Fares Alali, the Associate Dean in the College of Pharmacy also presented his research during the conference where he discussed Cytotoxic Homoisoflavones from the Bulbs of Bellevalia Eigii. He clarified that “eighteen compounds, 8 new and 12 known, were isolated from an organic extract of the bulbs of Bellevalia eigii as part of a search for anticancer leads from plants. Furthermore, Prof. Serhiy Souchelnytskyi, a faculty member of the College of QU, presented a paper titled Personalization of cancer treatment by tests with Circulating Tumor Cells and tumor biopsies. Dr. Souchelnytskyi discussed recent progress of cancer cell biology, proteomics and systems biology of cancer and showed how research in these areas has offered novel possibilities for improved diagnostic, treatment and monitoring of patients.

The program agenda included other topics addressing diagnosis, care, management and prevention of the disease; anti-cancer agents in medicinal chemistry; clinical trials; breast, lung and urologic cancer; nanotechnology; stem cell research; and viral and bacterial infection; among many others. Finally, Prof. Al Moustafa mentioned that the media in Qatar and the Arab world should encourage private and public companies as well as general population support for cancer research since the majority of the western countries raise around 50% of cancer research funds from private donations.