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Faculty Member Pursues Cancer Research

Christopher Togami, February 9, 2007
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Husbands, sisters, mothers, fathers, friends. These are only some of the people lost to cancer on a daily basis. By the time you have finished reading this paragraph, another person in the United States will have died from cancer, the most common forms of which are prostate and breast. Statistically speaking, everyone has been or will be touched by the destructive and prevalent disease, a disease that invades our lives and our bodies yet remains without a cure.

While the world continues its search for a cure, a great deal of research has moved towards the preventative aspect. Dr. Brian Wong, a biology professor new to PUC this academic year, has been researching and testing various methods of cancer prevention during the past sixteen years. Since his doctoral dissertation in 1990, Wong has researched the effectiveness of Chinese herbs in combating, or at least slowing, the growth of cancer cells. Two of these herbs, which have shown promising lab results, are found commonly throughout China in roadside ditches. Testing performed on mice has yielded delayed cancer cell growth of up to five or six weeks when taking certain levels and combinations of the herbs, which is the equivalent of about seven years for humans.

Part of Wong’s inspiration comes purely from the fact that cancer affects people in so many different ways. In China and Africa, mold grown on peanuts used to make peanut butter has been found to cause liver and intestinal cancer. “I want to find a scientific basis using scientific processes to publish articles in peer journals, which will attract more people to the herbs,” says Wong. His presentations at cancer research conventions in Phoenix, Lincoln and Washington D.C. offer an insight to the importance of Wong’s findings. His latest presentation took place this past December at the Innovations for Prostate Cancer Research conference in San Francisco, an event hosted by the American Association for Cancer Research.

In spite of a heavy schedule, which finds him in either the classroom or the lab during most of the day, Wong manages to set aside time to continue his research at PUC. The mice, which were brought to California from Union College in Nebraska this past summer, are housed in a room sterilized and prepared specifically for his research. Wong also capitalizes on a tradition of using students as his research assistants. This involvement of students in his research serves several purposes. Not only does it allow Wong to balance his time between the classroom and the lab, but it also gives students the experience of working on an ongoing project and having their work published. Working on advanced equipment like a microplate reader, which Wong hopes will be coming soon to PUC, further offers the students the type of experience that is usually reserved for those working in the laboratories of large-scale corporations.

The positive results of Wong’s studies and research provide him with the motivation to continue studies on the two Chinese herbs; and while some scientists clamor for recognition and the opportunity to establish their names in the world of preventative research, he finds satisfaction solely in his contribution to the field. “As Adventists, we have a health message and believe that prevention of sickness and disease is the best way,” says Wong. “Prevention is still my goal.”