Personalized treatment may help some liver cancer patients

Oct 22, 2010

A more personalized treatment for people with a type of metastatic liver cancer --hepatocellular carcinoma -- may be possible by targeting the protein c-Met, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the number three cause of cancer deaths in the world.

Hanning You, M.D., Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow, and C. Bart Rountree, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics and pharmacology, targeted c-Met, a known receptor for hepatocyte growth factor, the substance that appears to drive liver . In a pre-clinical translational study, they show that c-Met is overexpressed in metastatic liver and is associated with a poor prognosis.

"In addition to finding that c-Met is a significant biomarker for liver cancer, we conducted an analysis of six published manuscripts and 1,051 patients," said You. "Through this analysis we demonstrated and confirmed that c-Met activation is strongly associated with poor prognosis and aggressive features in patients with tumors."

Currently, physicians treat hepatocellular carcinoma with a "one size fits all" approach, so targeting c-Met may be an effective therapy for some patients.

"The five-year-survival of HCC is only 2 percent when diagnosed after metastasis," said Rountree. "Sorafenib, the most recently approved mediation for advanced HCC, benefits patients with an extra two months survival."

By targeting c-Met, researchers suppressed tumor growth and proliferation in a . They believe that molecular profiling will allow better treatment for the 45 percent of HCC patients who have c-Met positive tumors.

The research team is now looking to apply their findings to HCC in humans. The lab has applied to the National Cancer Institute to join a phase I trial using a c-Met inhibitor for advanced HCC.

"We are also working to build a second trial where we will establish a molecular profile of HCC patients before we start treatment, and then only give the c-Met inhibitor to the patients with a c-Met positive tumor, in effect personalizing their therapy," Rountree said.

Explore further: Sequence of rare kidney cancer reveals unique alterations involving telomerase

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Hepatitis B virus mutations may predict risk of liver cancer

Jul 02, 2009

Certain mutations in the DNA of the hepatitis B virus (HBV) are associated with the development of liver cancer and may help predict which patients with HBV infections are at increased risk of the disease, according to a ...

New transplantation criteria for liver cancer patients

Jul 28, 2010

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco propose that treatments used on liver cancers beyond the established Milan criteria for liver transplantation may be appropriate for all patients with hepatocellular ...

Recommended for you

How 'wriggling' skin cancer cells go on the move

3 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Scientists at King's College London have discovered a new way that melanoma skin cancer cells can invade healthy tissue and spread round the body, according to research published in Nature Co ...

Breast cancer imaging surgery world-first

4 hours ago

A world-first clinical trial to test new imaging technology that can scan tumours during breast cancer surgery has been launched at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust in collaboration with King's College ...

User comments : 0