Lee Wai Leng

Senior Lecturer
School of Science

Primary: lee.wai.leng@monash.edu
Secondary: +603 5514 6098
Room 4-8-37

From botany to agricultural science, further in ethnopharmacology and now cancer cell biology, Dr Lee Wai Leng explored a great spectrum of biological studies in her professional development. Her current research focus on the study of cancer-derived exosomes. Among a variety of cell-derived vesicles, exosomes are the nanovesicles released from various cell types into the extracellular space for intercellular communication. These vesicles were reported to serve as vehicles for intercellular transfer of genetic material (mRNA, miRNA) or proteins. Lately, these vesicles were found to play significant role in cancer development. My research interests include:

  1. To study the role of exosome in cancer progression
  2. To investigate the link between oncogenic mutation and exosome-mediated carcinogenesis
  3. To explore exosome as a novel source of non-invasive cancer biomarkers given that the cancer-specific molecules were identified in the exosomes isolated from biological fluids such as urine, saliva, blood and breast milk.

On the other hand, concerns about drug resistance and side effects of currently used therapeutic agents have raised interest in phytochemicals derived from dietary foods and traditional medicines which allow safe and continuing ingestion. Therefore Dr Lee's research also aims to discover the therapeutic use of local medicinal plant-derived phytochemicals in cancer treatment.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, Academia Sinica & National Chung Hsing University, 2011
  • Master of Science, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 2003
  • Bachelor of Science (Honours), Universiti Sains Malaysia, 2000


Ethnobotany, Cancer Cell Biology, Proteomics

Research Interests

  • Discovery of novel targetable pathways in cancer treatments - Several novel signaling pathways in breast cancer were discovered in my previous study. Among the components involved in these pathways, exosome is an extremely intriguing target in cancer treatment. Currently, one of the research projects in my laboratory aims to investigate the links between oncogenic mutation and exosome-mediated carcinogenesis.
  • Development of novel treatment options involve phytochemicals to provide breakthrough in treating life-threatening cancer diseases - Concerns about drug resistance and side effects of currently used therapeutic agents have raised interest in phytochemicals derived from dietary foods and traditional medicines which allow safe and continuing ingestion. Therefore my research also aims to discover the therapeutic use of local medicinal plant-derived phytochemicals in cancer treatment.


  • BIO1011 (Blueprints for life)
  • BTH3741 (Medical cell biology)

Book chapters

Shu-Kee Eng, Teng Hern Tan Loh, Bey-Hing Goh, Wai-Leng Lee. 2019. Natural Bio-active Compounds: KRAS as Potential Target in Colorectal Cancer Therapy. 389-424. Springer, Singapore.

Yew PN, Goh BH, Lim YY, Lee WL* (2018) Gastrointestinal bezoar stones: Current knowledge and future perspective on the potential of plant-derived phytobezoar in cancer treatment. In Anticancer Plants: Natural Products and Biotechnological Implements (Vol. 2).  Springer, 19-39.

Yap LS, Lee WL, Ting ASY (2017) Endophytes from Malaysian medicinal plants as sources for discovering anticancer agents. In Medicinal Plants and Fungi: Recent Advances in Research and Development. Springer. Pp 313-335

Yew PN, Oh KF and  Lee WL. (2016) Pro-oxidative phytoagents induce autophagy in tumors: Villain or benefactor in cancer treatment? AUTOPHAGY: Cancer, Other Pathologies, Inflammation, Immunity, Infection, and Aging, M. A. Hayat (Editor), (Vol. 8). M.A. Hayat (ed.) Elsevier. 2016 pp 307 – 323.

Lee WL, Shiau JY and Shyur LF (2012) Taxol, camptothecin and beyond for cancer therapy. pp 133-178. In: Lie-Fen Shyur (ed.) Advances in Botanical Research (Vol. 62): Recent Trends in Medicinal Plants Research. Elsevier.

Lin CH,  Lee WL and Shyur LF (2011) An overview of the current development of phytoremedies for breast cancer. pp 47-67. In: William Cho (ed.) Materia Medica for Various Cancers: Evidence-Based Anticancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2. Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Scholarly Journals

Kar-Yan Su, Wai-Leng Lee. 2020. Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy as a Cancer Screening and Diagnostic Tool: A Review and Prospects. Cancers, 12(1), 115.

Kar Bee Choo, Sui Mae Lee, Wai Leng Lee, Yuen Lin Cheow2019. Synthesis, characterization, in vitro antimicrobial and anticancer studies of new platinum N-heterocyclic carbene (NHC) complexes and unexpected nickel complexes. Journal of Organometallic Chemistry, 898

Peng-Nian Yew, Yau-Yan Lim, Wai-Leng Lee. 2019. Tannic acid-rich porcupine bezoars induce apoptosis and cell cycle arrest in human colon cancer cells. Pharmacognosy Magazine, 15(65), 523.

Xin-Hui Khoo, Ian C Paterson, Bey-Hing Goh, Wai-Leng Lee. 2019. Cisplatin-Resistance in Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma: Regulation by Tumor Cell-Derived Extracellular Vesicles. Cancers, 11(8), 1166.

Xin-Le Yap, Teng-Aik Ong, Jasmine Lim, Bayden Wood, Wai-Leng Lee. 2019. Study of prostate cancer-derived extracellular vesicles in urine using IR spectroscopy. Progress in Drug Discovery & Biomedical Science, 2(1).

Pui Ying Chee, Morokot Mang, Teng Hern, Tan Loh, Ern Sher Lau, Ya-Wen He, Wai-Leng Lee, Priyia Pusparajah, Chan FASc, Kok Gan, Learn-Han Lee, Bey Hing Goh. 2019. Epinecidin-1, an antimicrobial peptide derived from Grouper (Epinephelus coioides): pharmacological activities and applications. Frontiers in Microbiology, 10, 2631.

Delhousie Daniel-Jambun, Kuan Shion Ong, Yau Yan Lim, Joash Ban Lee Tan, Wai Leng Lee, Azira Muhamad, Sau Wai Yap, Sui Mae Lee. 2018. Antioxidant properties of Etlingera pubescens, an edible ginger plant endemic to Borneo. Food Bioscience, 25, 44-51

Kar Bee Choo, Wee Li Mah, Sui Mae Lee, Wai Leng Lee, Yuen Lin Cheow. 2018. Palladium complexes of bidentate pyridine N‐heterocyclic carbenes: Optical resolution, antimicrobial and cytotoxicity studies. Applied Organometallic Chemistry, 32(8), e4377.

Yew PN, Lee WL, Lim YY (2017) Antioxidant and intracellular ROS scavenging activities of three porcupine bezoars from Hystrix brachyuran. Pharmacognosy Research. DOI: 10.4103/pr.pr_145_16

Tan LTH, Chan KG, Pusparajah P, Lee WL, Chuah LH, Khan TM, Lee LH, Goh BH (2017) Targeting membrane lipid a potential cancer cure?. Frontiers in Pharmacology. 8: Article 12.

Shang KM, Su TH, Lee WL, Hsiao WW, Chiou CY, Ho BY, Wang SY, Shyur LF (2017) Novel effect and the mechanistic insights of fruiting body extract of medicinal fungus Antrodia cinnamomea against T47d breast cancer. Phytomedicine. 24: 39-48.

Lee HM, Patel V, Shyur LF, Lee WL (2016) Copper supplementation amplifies the anti-tumor effect of curcumin in oral cancer cells. Phytomedicine. 23: 1535-44.

Nakagawa-Goto K, Chen JY, Cheng YT, Lee WL, Takeya M, Saito Y, Lee KH, Shyur LF (2016) Novel sesquiterpene lactone analogues as potent anti-breast cancer agents. Molecular Oncology. 10: 921-37.

Jeng-Yuan Shiau, Kyoko Nakagawa-Goto, Kuo-Hsiung Lee, Wai-Leng Lee, Jacquelyn Gervay-Hague, Lie-Fen Shyur. 2015. Abstract A74: Modulation of oxidative stress and exosome activity by phytoagent deoxyelephantopin (DET) and its derivative treatment in suppressing triple negative breast cancer cell functions. Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, 14(12 Supplement 2), A74-A74.

Lee WL, Huang JY and Shyur LF (2013) Phytoagents for cancer management: regulation of nucleic acid oxidation, ROS, and related mechanisms. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. Special Issue: Nucleic Acid Oxidation in Human Health and Disease. 2013: 925804.

Shyur LF,  Lee WL, Shiau JY, Ying LQ, Gervay-Hague J. (2013). Optical imaging of molecular targets of phytoagent deoxyelephantopin against mammary adenocarcinoma cell activities. FASEB Journal. 27: 663.1.

Lee WL and Shyur LF. (2012) Deoxyelephantopin impedes mammary adenocarcinoma cell motility through inhibiting calpain-mediated adhesion dynamics and inducing ROS and aggresome formation. Free Radical Biology & Medicine 52: 1423-1436.

Lee WL, Wen TN, Shiau JY and Shyur LF (2010) Differential proteomic profiling identifies novel molecular targets of paclitaxel and phytoagent deoxyelephantopin against mammary adenocarcinoma cells. Journal of Proteome Research 9: 237-253.

Research Grants

  • Lee Wai Leng (Chief Investigator), Bayden Wood, Ong Teng Aik, Ngin Cin Khai, 2017, Study of cancer-derived exosomes in urine using IR spectroscopy for development of prostate cancer diagnostic test, Monash Malaysia Large Strategic Research Grant Scheme, RM175k
  • Lee Wai Leng, 2016, Proteomic study of colon cancer-derived exosomes, MUM Platform Mobility Scheme, RM10k
  • Lee Wai Leng (Principle investigator), Chow Sek Chuen,  2014, Oncogenic mutation regulates immunosuppression and drug resistance via tumor-derived exosomes, RM170k

PhD Students (Present)

  1. Su Kar Yan
  2. Lim Pei Tee
  3. Zhijack Fong

PhD Students (Completed)

  1. Eng Shu Kee
  2. Khoo Xin Hui
  3. Lai Kah Man

Masters Student (Present)

  1. Eunice Yap Xin Le

Honours Students (Present)

  1. Mohamed Nor Azizi
  2. Chew Kah Yan

Honours Students (Completed)

  1. Lee Hui Mei
  2. Shih Chih Tao
  3. Clairissa Joan Ping Ping Lee
  4. Nurul Syuhada Zulhaimi
  5. Ilma Ruzni Imtiaz

Academic/Corporate Community Engagements

Local Presentations

Yew PN, Lim YY, Lee WL* (2016) Antioxidant, anti- inflammatory and Intracellular ROS Scavenging Activities of Porcupine Bezoars from Hystrix brachyura. The Borneo Biotech Symposium, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, December 7-8. (Oral Presentation)

Lai KM*, Lal SK, Ngin CK, Lee WL (2017) Attenuating influenza A virus endocytosis by HB-EGF (heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor). The 42nd Annual Conference of the Malaysian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (MSBMB), Bandar Sunway, Malaysia, August 16-17. (Oral Presentation)

International Presentations

Khoo XH, Lee WL* (2017) Study of the role of tumor-derived exosomes in cisplatin treatment responsiveness of oral cancer cells. The BIT's 10th Annual World Cancer Congress, Barcelona, Spain, May 19-21. (Oral Presentation)

Eng SK*, Imitiaz IR, Chow SC, Goh BH, Lee WL (2017) Effect of kras mutation on exosome production, dissemination and exosome-mediated immunosuppression. The 13th Conference on Protein Expression in Animal Cells (PEACe), Valencia, Spain, September 24-28. (Poster Presentation)

Khoo XH*, Paterson IC, Goh BH, Lee WL (2017) Protein profiling of exosomes from oral cancer cells with distinct cisplatin sensitivity. The 13th Conference on Protein Expression in Animal Cells (PEACe), Valencia, Spain, September 24-28. (Poster Presentation)