In collaboration with Drs. Alice Mui, Gerald Krystal and Raymond Andersen, Dr. Ong is involved in the development of a novel class of small molecule agonists of the SH2-containing inositol phosphatase, SHIP, which is involved in inflammatory signalling.
Dr. Ong and his colleagues identified a novel small molecule agonist of SHIP from the Papua New Guinea sponge, Dactylospongia elegans. Synthetic structural analogs possessing more potent biological activity were then identified. They have now devised an efficient, high yielding chemical synthetic protocol for production of this new family of compounds. Furthermore, they have performed extensive studies in wild-type and SHIP-deficient cells and in animal models of inflammation and cancer to demonstrate oral bioavailability, specificity, and efficacy of these compounds as a robust activator of SHIP and as a potent anti-inflammatory and anti-leukemia/lymphoma agent.
Dr. Ong is also the scientific founder of Aquinox Pharmaceuticals Inc., a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing small molecule therapeutics for the treatment of cancer and inflammation.