New insight into liver cancer kindles hopes of treatment

09 July 2014

A common form of liver cancer called intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (iCCA), might soon become treatable, with researchers now gaining new insight into how two genetic mutations in liver cells might be driving tumour formation in iCCA.

The findings showed that two mutant proteins IDH1 and IDH2 were linked to the disease.

According to contributing author Josep Maria Llovet, from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in the US, iCCA was resistant to ''standard treatments like chemotherapy and radiation.'' 

Llovet added that the research findings provided novel insights into the development of iCCA and offered a possible treatment option for patients suffering from the fatal disease.

According to past studies, IDH mutations had been found to be among the most common genetic differences seen in patients with iCCA, but how these contributed to cancer development was unknown going into the current effort.

iCCA attacks bile ducts, tube-like structures in the liver that carry bile, which play an important role in the digestion of food, but with not much known about the disease, there was no first-line, standard of care and no successful therapies.

By pinpointing one pathway of iCCA, the study had opened up a new line of investigation to identify biomarkers of the disease.

Phase 1 clinical trials were already being conducted on specific IDH1/2 mutations and the hope was that results of these and future studies could help doctors make life-saving decisions for their patients.

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