New evidence for genetic bases of liver cancer reported

July 1, 2013

The Asian Cancer Research Group (ACRG), an independent, not-for-profit company in collaboration with BGI, the world's largest genomics organization, and The University of Hong Kong (HKU), jointly announced the publication of findings from a study of recurrent mutations in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), one of the most deadly cancers worldwide, in the international journal Genome Research. The study provides new insights into potential therapeutic intervention strategies for this common form of liver cancer.

HCC is a primary malignancy of the , generally leading to death within 6-20 months after diagnosis. This type of cancer is more common in parts of Africa and Asia, where the patients with hepatitis B or C are at risk for , even if they have not developed cirrhosis. HCC has limited treatment options such as surgical resection of the tumor at its early stage, and the molecular basis of its occurrence and development remains poorly understood.

In this study, researchers used whole genome sequencing (WGS) to survey a cohort of 88 matched HCC tumor and normal samples from Hong Kong for investigating alerted genes and the pathways implicated in HBV-associated HCC. They found that TP53 was the most commonly mutated , accounting for 35.2% in the HCC cohort. Generally, the patients with tumors containing TP53 mutations exhibited poor survival.

The Wnt/?-Catenin signaling pathway is central for liver functions and is frequently abnormal activated in the carcinogenesis of HCC. Researchers in this study found ?-catenin maybe the most frequently mutated oncogene. In addition to ?-catenin, they found relative high in genes in the JAK/STAT pathway, which may act as a major oncogenic driver in HCC .

Hancheng Zheng, group leader of this project at BGI, said, "Liver cancer is intractable to nearly all currently available anti-cancer targeted therapies. Our findings in this study provide a better understanding of molecular basis of hepatocarcinogenesis and provide new clues to improving the diagnosis and treatment of liver cancer in the future."

"We detected a series of genes and pathways implicated in HBV-associated HCC using whole genome sequencing, which contribute to a better understanding of the tumor biology and targeted drug screening," said Dr. James Hardwick, Vice President of ACRG, and Director of Informatics & Analysis at Merck, "The ACRG was established to fuel research directed towards improving our understanding of cancers affecting Asian populations. By working together, we are able to generate important breakthroughs that can be transformed to better fight against liver cancer in the future."

"As clinicians, we are very excited about the several prevalent and actionable mutations identified from the study, including activating mutations of JAK1, which warrant testing several existing inhibitors for the treatment of the disease preclinically and clinically," said Dr. Ronnie Poon, Chair Professor and Chief, Division of Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Surgery, The University of Hong Kong.

Explore further: New discoveries pave the way for early screening of liver cancer patients for targeted therapy

Related Stories

New discoveries pave the way for early screening of liver cancer patients for targeted therapy

June 13, 2013
Latest research findings by scientists at the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore (CSI Singapore) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) could enable early screening of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), ...

HIV no barrier to getting liver transplant, study finds

May 17, 2013
(HealthDay)—Liver transplants to treat a common type of liver cancer are a viable option for people infected with HIV, according to new research.

Targeted stimulation of immune pathway may help body fight back against liver cancer

June 5, 2013
Though it originates from the body's own cells, a tumor is as much of a hostile invader as any virus or bacterium. If the immune system is sufficiently sensitized, it can mount a counterattack just as it might fight an infection. ...

Liver cancers armed with many strategies for evading immune response

April 18, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Researchers at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) have published findings that help explain how a common and particularly resilient form of liver cancer evades the body's natural antitumor responses. ...

Family history of liver cancer increases risk of developing the disease

April 24, 2012
A family history of liver cancer is reported to increase risk of developing hepatocellular carcinomas (HCC), independent of hepatitis according to findings published in the May issue of Hepatology, a journal of the American ...

Scientists unravel mechanism that causes liver cancer

May 28, 2012
Scientists at the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) have unraveled the mechanism that causes liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma, HCC), one of the most common solid tumors worldwide. This genome-wide research was done ...

Recommended for you

Scientists identify new way cells turn off genes

July 19, 2017
Cells have more than one trick up their sleeve for controlling certain genes that regulate fetal growth and development.

South Asian genomes could be boon for disease research, scientists say

July 18, 2017
The Indian subcontinent's massive population is nearing 1.5 billion according to recent accounts. But that population is far from monolithic; it's made up of nearly 5,000 well-defined sub-groups, making the region one of ...

Mutant yeast reveals details of the aberrant genomic machinery of children's high-grade gliomas

July 18, 2017
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital biologists have used engineered yeast cells to discover how a mutation that is frequently found in pediatric brain tumor high-grade glioma triggers a cascade of genomic malfunctions.

Late-breaking mutations may play an important role in autism

July 17, 2017
A study of nearly 6,000 families, combining three genetic sequencing technologies, finds that mutations that occur after conception play an important role in autism. A team led by investigators at Boston Children's Hospital ...

Newly identified genetic marker may help detect high-risk flu patients

July 17, 2017
Researchers have discovered an inherited genetic variation that may help identify patients at elevated risk for severe, potentially fatal influenza infections. The scientists have also linked the gene variant to a mechanism ...

Newly discovered gene variants link innate immunity and Alzheimer's disease

July 17, 2017
Three new gene variants, found in a genome wide association study of Alzheimer's disease (AD), point to the brain's immune cells in the onset of the disorder. These genes encode three proteins that are found in microglia, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.