Professional Education

  • Master of Science, University of Oxford (2007)
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Universitat Zurich (2012)

Stanford Advisors


All Publications

  • Tankyrase inhibitors attenuate WNT/beta-catenin signaling and inhibit growth of hepatocellular carcinoma cells ONCOTARGET Ma, L., Wang, X., Jia, T., Wei, W., Chua, M., So, S. 2015; 6 (28): 25390-25401


    Deregulated WNT/β-catenin signaling contributes to the development of a subgroup of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the second leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. Within this pathway, the tankyrase enzymes (TNKS1 and TNKS2) degrade AXIN and thereby enhance β-catenin activity. We evaluate TNKS enzymes as potential therapeutic targets in HCC, and the anti-tumor efficacy of tankyrase inhibitors (XAV939, and its novel nitro-substituted derivative WXL-8) in HCC cells. Using semi-quantitative RT-PCR, we found significantly elevated levels of TNKS1/2 mRNA in tumor liver tissues compared to adjacent non-tumor livers, at protein levels only TNKS1 is increased. In HepG2, Huh7cells, siRNA-mediated knockdown suppression of endogenous TNKS1 and TNKS2 reduced cell proliferation, together with decreased nuclear β-catenin levels. XAV939 and WXL-8 inhibited cell proliferation and colony formation in HepG2, Huh7, and Hep40 cells (p < 0.05), with stabilization of AXIN1 and AXIN2, and decreased β-catenin protein levels. XAV939 and WXL-8 also attenuated rhWNT3A-induced TOPflash luciferase reporter activity in HCC cells, indicating reduced β-catenin transcriptional activity, consistent with decreased nuclear β-catenin levels. In vivo, intra-tumor injections of XAV939 or WXL-8 significantly inhibited the growth of subcutaneous HepG2 xenografts (P < 0.05). We suggest that tankyrase inhibition is a potential therapeutic approach for treating a subgroup HCC with aberrant WNT/β-catenin signaling pathway.

    View details for DOI 10.18632/oncotarget.4455

    View details for Web of Science ID 000363160100068

    View details for PubMedID 26246473

  • Medical training fails to prepare providers to care for patients with chronic hepatitis B infection WORLD JOURNAL OF GASTROENTEROLOGY Chao, S. D., Wang, B., Chang, E. T., Ma, L., So, S. K. 2015; 21 (22): 6914-6923


    To investigate physicians' knowledge including chronic hepatitis B (CHB) diagnosis, screening, and management in various stages of their training.A voluntary 20-question survey was administered in Santa Clara County, CA where Asian and Pacific Islanders (API) account for a third of the population. Among the 219 physician participants, there were 63 interns, 60 second-year residents, 26 chief residents and 70 attending physicians. The survey asked questions regarding respondents' demographics, general hepatitis B virus knowledge questions (i.e., transmission, prevalence, diagnostic testing, prevention, and treatment options), as well as, self-reported practice behavior and confidence in knowledge.Knowledge about screening and managing patients with CHB was poor: only 24% identified the correct tests to screen for CHB, 13% knew the next steps for patients testing positive for CHB, 18% knew the high prevalence rate among API, and 31% knew how to screen for liver cancer. Wald chi-square analysis determined the effect of training level on knowledge; in all cases except for knowledge of liver cancer screening (P = 0.0032), knowledge did not significantly increase with length in residency training or completion of residency.Even in a high-risk region, both medical school and residency training have not adequately prepared physicians in the screening and management of CHB.

    View details for DOI 10.3748/wjg.v21.i22.6914

    View details for Web of Science ID 000356421000016

    View details for PubMedID 26078568

  • Epigenetics in hepatocellular carcinoma: An update and future therapy perspectives WORLD JOURNAL OF GASTROENTEROLOGY Ma, L., Chua, M., Andrisani, O., So, S. 2014; 20 (2): 333-345
  • WNT/β-catenin pathway activation in hepatocellular carcinoma: a clinical perspective Gastrointestinal Cancer: Targets and Therapy Ma, L., et al 2014; 4

    View details for DOI 10.2147/GICTT.S44256

  • Regulation of the gene encoding the intestinal bile acid transporter ASBT by the caudal-type homeobox proteins CDX1 and CDX2. American journal of physiology. Gastrointestinal and liver physiology Ma, L., Jüttner, M., Kullak-Ublick, G. A., Eloranta, J. J. 2012; 302 (1): G123-33


    The apical sodium-dependent bile acid transporter (ASBT) is expressed abundantly in the ileum and mediates bile acid absorption across the apical membranes. Caudal-type homeobox proteins CDX1 and CDX2 are transcription factors that regulate genes involved in intestinal epithelial differentiation and proliferation. Aberrant expression of both ASBT and CDXs in Barrett's esophagus (BE) prompted us to study, whether the expression of the ASBT gene is regulated by CDXs. Short interfering RNA-mediated knockdown of CDXs resulted in reduced ASBT mRNA expression in intestinal cells. CDXs strongly induced the activity of the ASBT promoter in reporter assays in esophageal and intestinal cells. Nine CDX binding sites were predicted in silico within the ASBT promoter, and binding of CDXs to six of them was verified in vitro and within living cells by electrophoretic mobility shift assays and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays, respectively. RNAs were extracted from esophageal biopsies from 20 BE patients and analyzed by real-time PCR. Correlation with ASBT expression was found for CDX1, CDX2, and HNF-1? in BE biopsies. In conclusion, the human ASBT promoter is activated transcriptionally by CDX1 and CDX2. Our finding provides a possible explanation for the reported observation that ASBT is aberrantly expressed in esophageal metaplasia that also expresses CDX transcription factors.

    View details for DOI 10.1152/ajpgi.00102.2011

    View details for PubMedID 22016432