Molecules may help predict survival in liver cancer

Jan 30, 2008

Tiny molecules that help cells regulate which proteins they make might one day help doctors predict which liver-cancer patients are likely to live longer than others, new research suggests.

Researchers compared levels of molecules called microRNA in tumor cells and adjacent nontumor cells from liver-cancer patients, most of whom also had hepatitis and cirrhosis.

The study found that patients with poor disease-free survival had low overall levels of 19 particular microRNAs compared with those showing better survival after 16 years of follow-up.

The work was led by researchers at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center in collaboration with investigators at the Mayo Clinic and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

The study is published in the Jan. 15 issue of the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

“The findings must be verified in larger groups of patients, but they suggest that we might improve survival in some liver-cancer cases by adding back those microRNAs as a drug,” says principal investigator Thomas D. Schmittgen, associate professor of pharmacy and a researcher with Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.

But that possibility will require years of additional laboratory and preclinical research, Schmittgen says.

Liver cancer, or hepatocellular carcinoma, is the third most common cause of cancer death worldwide, killing some 662,000 people in 2005, according to the World Health Organization. The disease is more common in men and is usually caused by hepatitis infection or cirrhosis of the liver.

For this study, Schmittgen and his collaborators examined specimens from 43 liver tumors, 28 of which were paired with nearby nontumor tissue, and specimens from six normal livers. Two-thirds of the cancerous livers also had hepatitis and cirrhosis.

The researchers examined the levels of 196 different microRNAs in liver-cancer cells vs. nearby noncancer cells, and in liver cells with hepatitis and cirrhosis vs. healthy cells.

Both comparisons showed interesting differences in microRNA levels, but the most important finding came when the researchers looked for a correlation between cancer-cell microRNA levels and disease-free survival times in 25 patients for whom disease-free survival data was available.

The analysis showed that patients with poor survival had generally lower levels of 19 particular microRNAs than did patients with significantly better survival.

“This may also be a good clue as to which microRNAs are most important in liver cancer,” Schmittgen says.

Source: Ohio State University Medical Center

Explore further: Black men less willing to be investigated for prostate cancer

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NY surveying banks on cyber security defenses

2 hours ago

(AP)—New York financial regulators are considering tougher cyber security requirements for banks to mandate more complex computer sign-ins and certifications from the contractors of their cyber defenses, the state's top ...

Study shows troubling rise in use of animals in experiments

14 minutes ago

Despite industry claims of reduced animal use as well as federal laws and policies aimed at reducing the use of animals, the number of animals used in leading U.S. laboratories increased a staggering 73 percent from 1997 ...

Life-saving train design is rarely used

3 hours ago

(AP)—Nearly a decade ago, the U.S. secretary of transportation stood at the site of a horrendous commuter train crash near downtown Los Angeles and called for the adoption of a new train car design that ...

Climate change may flatten famed surfing waves

3 hours ago

On a summer day in 1885, three Hawaiian princes surfed at the mouth of the San Lorenzo River on crudely constructed boards made from coastal redwoods, bringing the sport to the North American mainland.

Recommended for you

US women's awareness of breast density varies

3 hours ago

Disparities in the level of awareness and knowledge of breast density exist among U.S. women, according to the results of a Mayo Clinic study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Study shows why some brain cancers resist treatment

4 hours ago

Scientists at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center may have discovered why some brain cancer patients develop resistance to standard treatments including radiation and the chemotherapy agent temozolomide.

Researchers identify genes responsible for lung tumors

6 hours ago

The lung transcription factor Nkx2-1 is an important gene regulating lung formation and normal respiratory functions after birth. Alterations in the expression of this transcription factor can lead to diseases such as lung ...

Lycopene may ward off kidney cancer in older women

7 hours ago

A higher intake by postmenopausal women of the natural antioxidant lycopene, found in foods like tomatoes, watermelon and papaya, may lower the risk of renal cell carcinoma, a type of kidney cancer.

User comments : 0

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.