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Molecular Discoveries Shed Light on Liver Cancer -- Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC)
Date:4/26/2008

Genomics improves our ability to target experimental cancer treatments

A promising new drug is in hand, and more are on the way

Improved ability to select patients to test particular drugs

MILAN, Italy, April 27 /PRNewswire/ --

At today's sessions of this, the final day of the 43rd Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL), leading hepatologists described several important advances in understanding and provide novel treatments for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Most notably, progress has been made by acquiring data that improve our understanding of the disease process at the molecular level... what is taking place in the body that leads to the development of HCC.

Applying the technologies of genomics and microarrays, scientists have discovered that there are a number of different biological pathways that result in HCC. Using this knowledge, they can now classify and explore various subtypes of HCC. This novel view contradicts the previous belief that the disease occurs in one way only, from a single disease mechanism.

The discovery of subtypes has significant implications. First, it raises the possibility of targeting treatments to particular patients, based on their respective cancer subtype ("targeted therapeutics"). Second, it enables more precise assessment of the response to specific experimental therapies. Moreover, it offers the possibility of refining each patient's prognosis, again based on his or her cancer subtype.

Malignancy is a complex process. It involves the accumulation of multiple independent gene mutations that lead to deregulation of cell pathways that influence cell growth and cell fate. The process itself is called the "oncogenic pathway." In the past, most scientists in the field believed that there was only one oncogenic "pathway" in HCC.

HCC is one of the most common tumors worldwide. Most cases of HCC result from a viral infection (Hepa
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SOURCE EASL - European Association for the Study of the Liver
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