Liver Cancer News 2013
Breast Cancer More Likely To Liver In Young Women
30 Dec 2013
University of Queensland researchers analyzed autopsy results of 200 women who died from metastatic breast cancer and found that women under 50 had a higher incidence of secondary cancer in the liver or gynecological organs. Secondary cancers in various organs differ from primary cancers and those differences could be pivotal concerning diagnosis and treatment decisions. The researchers concluded, “By carefully analyzing the actual metastatic tumors from a large number of women with metastatic breast cancer, we wanted to understand how and why metastases spread to the different organs and how they behave in those different sites.”
New Liver Cancer Drug Expected to be Approved in 2015
30 Dec 2013
Medigen, after clinical trials in Taiwan, has announced a new drug aimed at preventing the recurrence of liver cancer after surgical treatment. PI-88 is in third-stage clinical trials and if expectations are reached drug approval applications will be filed sometime in 2014. The trial reached its 500 patient target on Dec. 27, 2013, and was implemented at 25 medical centers in Taiwan, mainland China, Hong Kong and South Korea.
Protein Links Liver Cancer with Obesity, Alcoholism and Hepatitis
19 Dec 2013
University of Iowa researchers have discovered that a protein, called CHOP, once thought to prevent cancer, actually promotes it in mice and possibly humans. “Obesity, alcoholism and viral hepatitis are all known independently to cause cellular stress and to induce expression of CHOP,” says Thomas Rutkowski, PhD., senior study author. “So this finding suggests a biological pathway that links those “upstream” health problems to liver cancer at the end.” The next step for Rutkowski is to determine whether CHOP is involved in tumor formation or in assisting established tumors to grow with the hope that scientists find something therapeutically useful down the line.
Hispanics Face Highest Rate of Diabetes-Related Illness
13 Dec 2013
University of Southern California researchers report that diabetes is now considered a significant risk factor for HCC and that Hispanics with diabetes are at a greater risk. Hispanics were more likely to be diagnosed with HCC than Native Hawaiian, African-Americans, Japanese-Americans and non-Hispanic whites and the study found that the incidence rates of these ethnic groups matched incidence rates for diabetes. Hispanic men died from liver disease 1.7 times the rate of non-Hispanic white men and Hispanic women at 1.8 the rate of non-Hispanic women.
Cellular Biomedicine Group Announces Completion of Patient Treatment for Phase I Clinical Trial for Liver Cancer
13 Dec 2013
The company’s TC-DC (Tumor Stem Cell Specific Dendritic Cell) therapy is designed to lower the incidence of tumor recurrence and metastasis via autologous immune cell therapy in patients with HCC who have undergone tumor resection and TACE chemotherapy. “We are very pleased to reach this important milestone in our clinical trial and we look forward to reporting the full data readout early in the new year,” said Dr. Wei (William) Cao PhD., CEO of Cellular Biomedicine Group.
Genetic Flaw Triggers Liver Cancer, Diabetes in Males
10 Dec 2013
Michigan State University researchers have found that the NCOA5 gene, present in men and women, can lead to HCC when altered to a deficient level in male mice. Men develop HCC at 2-4 times the rate of women. In addition, before cancer developed, precursors to type 2 diabetes were also found in men; women did not develop these diseases. “Essentially, what this provides is evidence for a genetic susceptibility in males to this particular type of liver cancer and diabetes,” said Hua Xiao, lead researcher of the project at MSU.
Type-2 Diabetes Might Raise Risk of Liver Cancer
8 Dec 2013
Researchers at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y., analyzed data from 170,000 black, Native Hawaiian, Japanese-American, Latino and white adults from 1993 – 1996. They found evidence that suggests that those with type 2 diabetes have 2 – 3 times the likelihood of developing HCC versus those without type 2 diabetes. Possible connections could be drugs used to treat diabetes or the high prevalence of those type 2 patients that develop fatty liver disease, which can progress to HCC, but the researchers stressed that the link between type 2 and HCC was low. “We have a lot more learning to do and more work is needed to prove an association and define what the risk really is,” said Dr. David Bernstein, chief of hepatology at North Shore.
FDA Expected to Approve New, Gentler Cure for Hepatitis C
5 Dec 2013
Gilead Science’s hepatitis C drug, sofosbuvir, interferes with the virus’ replication with minimal effect on cell metabolism. In combination with ribavirin, sofosbuvir is an interferon-free treatment for two strains of hepatitis C and has also been approved for the most common and difficult-to-treat genotype-1 strain, with interferon. “This is really a landmark shift in the treatment of hepatitis C,” says Dr. Eric Lawitz of the Texas Liver Institute. “It’s going to lead to a new generation of all-oral pills for all patients without the use of interferon, which is very tough for patients to take.”
BioAlliance Pharma: Approval to Start ReLive (Livatag ®) Phase III Clinical Trial in Primary Liver Cancer in the U.S. and Germany
4 Dec 2013
Livatag is a drug with a nanoparticle formulation that enables it to bypass the resistance mechanisms of the tumor cell and the ReLive trial intends to show Livitag’s efficacy on survival of 400 HCC patients after failure or intolerance of sorafenib. International extension and recruitment by 2015 is needed for the company to present preliminary results in 2016. “In addition to the geographic expansion and the acceleration of patient enrollment, the implementation of ReLive in the United States will allow the world’s leading experts in hepatology and oncology to build their own experiences on the product,” stated Judith Greciet, CEO of BioAlliance Pharma.
Acceleron to Start Trial in Liver Cancer Patients Early Next Year
3 Dec 2013
The company’s drug, dalantercept, inhibits the formation of new blood vessels from existing ones and has been used in drug-trial patients with advanced cancers of the head and neck, kidney and ovaries, as well as those with renal cell carcinoma. Depending on the success of the renal cell carcinoma trial, Acceleron has decided to start a combination trial administering dalantercept and Nexavar on HCC patients by the spring of 2014. Steve Ertel, chief business officer of the company, said they want to run several “…concurrent trials against various diseases rather than focus on bringing a single to drug to market quickly.”
Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Linked to Liver Cancer
27 Nov 2013
Data from the Singapore Chinese Health Study of over 60,000 middle-aged men and women from 1993 – 1998 found that type-2 diabetes mellitus patients had a 114% higher incidence of HCC compared to those without the disease. Patients with type-2 diabetes mellitus have low insulin sensitivity, which requires the production of more insulin, which increases production of insulin-like growth hormone, a known promoter of cancer.
Korean CRO Grabs Failed Cancer Vaccine in $150-Max Jennerex Buyout
27 Nov 2013
The Jennerex cancer vaccine Pexa-Vec flunked its Phase IIb overall survival endpoint in a liver cancer study, but the South Korean company, SillaJen, has bought the company. Details on the trial failure are scant, but SillaJen is ignoring the setback and making plans on a Phase III liver cancer study. “The clinical data with Jennerex’s lead asset, Pexa-Vec (JX-594), is compelling in multiple tumor types,” says SillaJen CEO Eun-Sang Moon in a statement. “In a randomized Phase II trial, as published in Nature Medicine in February 2013, Pexa-Vec demonstrated an overall survival advantage as first-line therapy for patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma.”
HCC-Based Transplants Straining Donor Pool, Speaker Says
20 Nov 2013
UC San Francisco researchers analyzed data from over 20,000 adult patients in line for liver transplantation secondary to HCV from 2003 – 2010 and found that those patients listed with HCC more than doubled during that time span. The trend is expected to continue and strain an already overburdened donor pool. “This could influence HCC listing policy over the next decade and may push the transplant community to consider nontransplant alternatives ,” said Jennifer A. Flemming, MD at UCSF.
Excess Bile Acids Can Signal Beginning of Liver Cancer
21 Nov 2013
Bile aids in digestion and is tightly controlled by the body due to its toxicity to the liver, but researchers have found that a build-up of bile leads to a cascade of protein proliferation, which promotes HCC tumor growth. Mouse models lacking two key components of this regulatory system showed mice with enlarged livers that activate the liver progenitor cells that lead to spontaneous HCC tumor growth. Researchers said that higher levels of the trigger-proteins are enough to induce other proteins to induce spontaneous tumor growth and they concluded that decreasing levels of these proteins, or of the bile acids that cause them, may protect against liver cancer.
Successful Hepatitis C Treatment Reduces Risk of Liver Cancer and Death, But Most Remain Untreated
15 Nov 2013
In an observational cohort study of almost 130,000 U.S. veterans with HCV between 1999 – 2010, almost all patients were men, half were white, one-third were black, the average age was 52 years and 79% had HCV genotype 1, the hardest to treat and the most common in the U.S. The study found that viral suppression of HCV reduced future liver events by 27% and death by 45%, but only one-quarter of veterans received treatment. American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) president Gregory Fitz concluded that these results were based on “old school treatment” using interferon-based therapy and that outcomes would likely be better using new direct-acting antiviral agents. But given the continued risk of liver cancer, he stressed that one “can’t just clear the virus and think the story is over.”
Diabetes Is A Risk Factor For Liver Cancer
10 Nov 2013
A team at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston, Texas surveyed 2000 liver cancer patients over the age of 65 and compared them with a similar non-cancer group-. They found that patients with liver cancer were twice as likely to be male and non-white and that liver cancer patients were twice as likely to have diabetes. Including other risk factors, the team concluded that people with diabetes have a tripled likelihood of liver cancer than the rest of the population.
Gamma-GT Levels May Predict HCC Risk In Non-Cirrhotic Patients After SVR
8 Nov 2013
Taiwanese researchers analyzed 642 chronic hepatitis patients who achieved SVR (sustained virologic response or no detectable virus in the blood for six months) after conventional pegylated interferon/ribavirin therapy. In cirrhotic and non-cirrhotic subgroups of HCV patients, researchers determined predictors of HCC; for non-cirrhotic patients the strongest predictor was heightened gamma-GT (an index of liver dysfunction.) “In non-cirrhotic patients, the gamma-GT level has the capability of prediction for development of HCC,” said Chia Yen-Dai, M.D., PhD., of the hepatobiliary division of Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital, Taiwan.
In Vivo Fluorescence Imaging OF Angiogenic Vessels In Liver Cancer Animal Model
6 Nov 2013
13Hepatocellular carcinoma angiogenesis, the formation and differentiation of blood vessel tumor cells, has been captured with UVP’s iBox® Explorer 2 Imaging Microscope, a high-resolution camera capable of capturing low fluorescent signals in the bodies of mice. One month after healthy mouse livers were inoculated with HCC, angiogenic vessels around tumor tissue were visible, images were captured and numbers and lengths of vessels measured and recorded. The experiment confirmed that this liver cancer mouse model is a reliable, reproducible system for the study of angiogenesis.
Delcath Changing Focus On Cancer-Fighting System
6 Nov 2013
Last May the FDA rejected the Chemosat system to fight liver cancer that had metastasized from the eye. Delcath is currently finalizing plans to start a new study aimed directly at HCC, or primary liver cancer. “In looking at the (primary liver cancer) market, we believe our greatest potential opportunity is in the first line setting. As a result, we have modified our proposed clinical trial accordingly and will be seeking comments from the FDA,” said Jennifer Simpson, interim co-President and co-CEO of Delcath. Chemosat delivers high doses of the chemotherapy drug melphalan directly to the tumor via catheters and then removes the blood from the patients’ bodies to eliminate the negative effects of the treatment.
Hepatitis B Treatment with Entecavir or Tenofovir Lowers, But Does Not Eliminate, Liver Cancer Risk
6 Nov 2013
A Taiwanese observational cohort study of 666 chronic hepatitis B patients with cirrhosis found that long-term treatment with entecavir can reduce the incidence of HCC in these patients. Chronic HBV is treated with entecavir, as well as adefovir, lamivudine, telbivudine and tenofovir, and while they can reduce the hepatitis B viral load, they cannot eradicate the virus completely. The bottom line is there is no cure for either disease and researchers recommend that people with HBV should continue regular monitoring for primary liver cancer.
Longer Transplant Waits For HCC Patients May Be Beneficial
4 Nov 2013
HCC patients have preferred status on liver transplantation scoring system exceptions, but scientists at Oregon Health and Science University have discovered that delaying transplant may identify patients with slower progressing HCC and consequently give them longer survival times after surgery. “Increasing waiting time before liver transplant predicted longer post-transplant survival for HCC and that’s a fact that was independent of clinical and demographic differences. This suggests that increasing the lead time selects for a group of slowly progressing cancers that go on to have excellent post-transplant outcomes,” said Barry Schlansky, M.D., of gastroenterology and hepatology department of OHSU.
Liver Meeting Speaker: HCC Exceptions Contributing to MELD Inflation, Transplant Inequity
3 Nov 2013
The Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) scoring system is used to improve HCC patients’ chances of organ transplant; from 2005 – 2012 those with HCC waited an average of 257 days versus 420 days for non-HCC patients. Patrick G. Northup, M.D., of the division of gastroenterology and hepatology at the University of Virginia raised the question of the fairness of this system at the Liver Meeting in Washington, D.C., this year. “We should ask ourselves: Does the current system truly give access to the sickest first?” said Northrup. “We should use extreme caution when considering adding new exceptions to the MELD system… as upgrades to the current MELD system have unintended consequences,” he concluded.
Researchers Able to Identify That Benign Tumors From Use of Oral Contraceptive Have A Greater Chance of Becoming Malignant
3 Nov 2013
Though rare, the use of oral contraceptives can cause benign tumors in the liver, or hepatocellular adenomas, which can lead to malignant tumors in some cases. For the first time, researchers were able to determine a molecular mechanism of malignant progression of hepatocellular adenomas to carcinomas. “This work provided new insights about the major genetic determinants of malignant transformation and their timeframe accumulation during the adenoma-carcinoma sequence. At the clinical level, we believe that these results open new avenues for personalized medicine in hepatocellular adenomas,” said lead researcher Camilla Pilati, PhD.
AGH Study: Radiation Technique Helps Liver Cancer Patients Become Transplant-Eligible
30 Oct 2013
Due to the size and rapid spread of liver tumors in HCC patients, liver transplant has to happen quickly, if it is to happen at all. Stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) uses advanced diagnostic imaging and computer mapping to deliver high doses of radiation accurately to liver tumors over days instead of the weeks needed with traditional radiation therapy and gives better tumor control with fewer side effects. “We believe SBRT will ultimately become a standard bridge to liver transplant option at major transplant centers around the country,” said Alexander Kirichenko M.D., PhD., radiation oncologist at Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh.
Data Presented For ENMD-2076 In Xenograft Models Of Human Hepatocellular Carcinoma
22 Oct 2013
EntreMed, Inc., a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company, announced pre-clinical data for its HCC-fighting drug against standard of care drugs such as sorafenib, doxorubicin and 5-FU. The data showed ENMD-2076 to have robust antitumor activity against human HCC models superior to that of the three standards of care agents. “This preclinical study provides support for further clinical investigation of the drug candidate in HCC patients who do not tolerate, or have failed or relapsed from other systemic treatment, particularly sorafenib of 5-FU,” commented Ken K. Ken, PhD., EntreMed’s Chief Medical Officer.
Diabetes Mellitus Demonstrated As Independent Predictor Of Cirrhosis, Hepatocellular Carcinoma
22 Oct 2013
Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham analyzed 503 medical charts of patients with steatohepatitis-related liver disease for comorbidities and complications and found that these patients had a higher incidence and faster rate of HCC, cirrhosis and encephalopathy than non-diabetic patients did. Doctors state that these findings suggest more frequent screening may be necessary. “If you know somebody has diabetes and you know they also have some form of steatohepatitis … they may require different screening modalities and surveillance guidelines for things like hepatocellular carcinoma or earlier interventions of their liver disease.”
Polaris Group Files New IND For ADI-PEG 20 In Breast Cancer
22 Oct 2013
The company has previously filed an Investigational New Drug Application (IND) for use of the drug in a global Phase III study for HCC, currently underway. ADI-PEG 20 is a biologic being developed for cancers demonstrating a major metabolic defect that renders these cancer cells, unlike normal cells, unable to internally synthesize arginine. “Because arginine is one of the 20 amino acids that are essential for protein synthesis and survival of cells, it is believed these cancer cells become dependent upon the external supply of arginine to survive and grow. ADI-PEG 20 is designed to systemically deplete the external supply or arginine, which causes arginine-dependent cancer cells to die while leaving the normal cells unharmed.”
FDA Grants Orphan Drug Designation to Lipiodol®(Ethiodized Oil) Injection for Management of Patients with Known Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC)
21 Oct 2013
Lipiodol is injected into the bloodstream,”… for selective hepatic intra-arterial use in computed tomography of the liver to visualize and localize lesions in adults with known HCC.” Dr. Yves L’Epine, CEO of Guerbet, the pharmaceutical group promoting the oil, commented, “We are very pleased to have been granted an orphan drug designation for Lipiodol. Patients with know HCC may have Lipiodol approved as part of their disease management as an option.”
NUS Scientists Identify Molecular Switch That Suppresses Development of Liver Cancer
21 Oct 2013
National University of Singapore (NUS) researchers have discovered that activating a small family of protein, called Rho, could suppress liver malignancies. Rho along with another protein Ras are molecular switches that were used by the researchers to create and abate HCC tumors in zebra fish through signaling crosstalk of the proteins with one another. These findings pave the way for the development and application of targeted therapeutics for liver cancer.
Hepatitis B Mutation Seen Only In Men, Increased Risk of Liver Cancer
17 Oct 2013
A team of South Korean researchers collected and analyzed serum samples from 292 chronic HBV-infected patients between 2003 and 2005 and found that the gene mutation W4P/R, which was previously associated with liver cancer and cirrhosis, was also associated with severe liver disease at a higher rate in males. Men infected with chronic HBV are roughly five times more likely to develop certain types of liver cancer than HBV-infected females. “This is the first mutation found that can explain the gender disparity in incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma,” said Boom-Jun Kim of Seoul National University, an author of the study.
GenSpera G-202 Principal Investigator Presents Phase I Data at Symposium on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics
17 Oct 2013
Principal investigator Dr. Devalingam Mahalingam, PhD, will present a poster,” A first in-human Phase I clinical study of G-202. G-202 is a plant-derived cytotoxin (thapsigargin) that is released within the tumor and, unlike typical chemotherapeutic agents, kills both slow- and fast-growing cancers, as well as cancer stem cells. Data from the phase Ib program in solid tumor patients showed that it was well tolerated and slowed tumor growth in HCC patients who had previously progressed with sorafenib. The company’s Phase II trial in HCC is ongoing.
Drug Developed From Breast Milk Fights Cancer, Encephalitis
15 Oct 2013
Russian researchers conducted an experiment on mice that showed that lactaptin, a protein found in breast milk, kills lung and liver cancer-related cells. “Two medications are going through the pre-clinical trial now,” said researcher Valentin Vlasovs. “During the analyses of the milk proteins we detected a tiny peptide that affected cancer cells. It destroyed cancer cells and left the healthy ones alive,” said Vlasovs. He further states that it needs further testing, but that it is nearly ready as a medication for liver cancer.
Researchers Identify Liver Cancer Progenitor Cells Before Tumors Become Visible
10 Oct 2013
HCC progenitor cells (HcPC) form in abnormal lesions found in cirrhotic livers and are often due to viral infections like hepatitis or from alcohol abuse. Researchers at UC San Diego School of Medicine have isolated and identified the HcPCs that lead to the formation of malignant HCC tumors and have detected potential lesions in a subset of HCV patients that hadn’t developed HCC yet. Study co-author Debanjan Dhar, PhD said, “Our findings can be translated into both early detection and therapeutic intervention. Better understanding of HcPC cellular networks will provide us with new and effective therapeutic targets.”
Liver Cancer Often Diagnosed Late With Poor Survival In People With HIV
4 Oct 2013
Researchers at Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Maranon in Madrid analyzed tumor characteristics and survival among HCC patients with HIV and found that people co-infected with HIV and viral hepatitis had a quicker HCC progression and poorer treatment response than those with HBV and HCV alone. Lead researcher Juan Berenguer said, “In people with HIV, HCC was frequently diagnosed at an advanced stage and outside of surveillance programs.” Berenguer went on to say all cirrhosis patients were at risk for developing HCC and recommended that HIV-positive people with advanced liver disease get screened, at a minimum, every six months.
MultiCell Technologies Expands Scope of Research Agreement for the Treatment of Liver Cancer
2 Oct 2013
“MCT-485 is a non-coding double stranded micro RNA (miRNA) which has demonstrated oncolytic and immune stimulating activity in in vitro models of hepatocellular carcinoma.” The company, with researchers at the University Health Network’s Toronto General Hospital, will explore the use of Genisphere’s DNA nanoparticle drug delivery system to deliver MCT-485 directly to the tumor and away from healthy surrounding tissue.
Delcath Liver Cancer Drug Gets Orphan Status
1 Oct 2013
The FDA approved the company’s melphalan chemotherapy, which delivers high doses of the drug via catheter directly to the liver while avoiding exposure to the surrounding tissue. The preferential status will help the company recoup its investment and market the drug in the treatment of primary live cancer.
Mexican Scientists Reveal Aflatoxins Relationship with Cervical and Liver Cancer in Humans
1 Oct 2013
A relationship to both cancers has been established in foods such as corn tortillas, rice, chili pepper, chicken breast and eggs that contain aflatoxins. Researchers at the Biology Institute of the University of Mexico have explain that human liver tissue samples containing molecules of aflatoxins show that they are passed from the bottom to the top of the food chain and that ingestion of aflatoxin contaminated foods can be the causal factor of both diseases.
Better QoL with Radioembolization Treatment than TACE Among HCC Patients
30 Sept 2013
A prospective observational study compared quality-of-life scores for HCC patients undergoing Y-90 radioembolization and transarterial chemoembolization (TACE). Both groups had similar overall quality of life scores. Patients who underwent radioembolization experienced better social and functional well-being, a more satisfactory coping with the illness, closeness to friends and appetite. Patients who underwent TACE reported a loss of hope in fighting their disease, more diarrhea, feelings of sadness and nervousness. “Despite treatment of more advanced disease, health-related Qol parameters significantly favored Y-90 radioembolization over TACE in several subscales,” wrote researchers.
High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound Ablation for Treatment of Hepatocellular Carcinoma and Hypersplenism
28 September 2013
The purpose of this preliminary study was to explore the safety and efficacy of high-intensity focused ultrasound ablation on HCC complicated by hypersplenism. During patient follow-up, white blood cell count, platelet count and liver function substantially improved and symptoms such as epistaxis and gingival bleeding were improved or even eliminated. Overall quality of life improved and imaging showed no tumor blood supply at the treated lesions of the liver. The authors recommend further study to clarify the mechanisms involved.
Radiofrequency, Laser Ablation Similarly Effective for Treating Small HCC Nodules
25 September 2013
From January 2009 – July 2012, researchers evaluated 140 treatment-naïve HCC patients with nodules; 77 were given RFA and 80 were given laser ablation (LA). Complete tumor ablation (CTA) occurred in 97.2% of the RFA group and 95.8% of the LA group. HCC recurred in 40 RFA patients and 36 LA patients with both groups at 93% overall survival. “In our experience, LA was as effective as RFA in inducing the complete necrosis of HCC nodules. This is the first study that validates the use of LA for the treatment,” the researchers concluded.
Early Response to TACE Predictive of Survival, Extrahepatic Metastasis
24 September 2013
Researchers evaluated 136 intermediate-stage HCC patients who underwent transcatheter arterial chemoembolization (TACE) between January 2005 and May 2011. After the two initial TACE treatments, patients were evaluated for overall survival and incidence of extrahepatic metastasis between two groups: patients with complete and partial response and patients with stable and progressive disease. Patients that responded to treatment had longer median time to development of HCC (25.5 months vs. 5.4 months) and better overall survival (32.9 months vs. 7.8 months) than non-responsive patients did. “Early treatment response to TACE predicts the time to development of extrahepatic metastasis and patient survival times in intermediate-stage HCC patients. Therefore, if early treatment response is unsatisfactory, one may consider switching into other therapeutic modalities…,” concluded the researchers.
Treatment Delay for HCC Linked to Increased Mortality Risk
23 September 2013
In a retrospective cohort study, 267 patients with cirrhosis who were diagnosed with HCC were evaluated by researchers from January 2005 – June 2012 and divided into those whose treatment was delayed and those that received treatment in a timely manner. Survival for delayed-treatment patients was 63.7% (1-year) and 50.1% (2-years) vs. 89.8% (1-year) and 64.5% (2-years) for timely-treatment patients, respectively. Author of the study, Dr. Amit Singal M.D., University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas concluded, “Our study found that therapeutic delays are worrisome, as they are associated with an increased risk of mortality… Multidisciplinary care was able to significantly reduce the likelihood of therapeutic delays.”
New Test Enables Early Diagnosis of Liver Cancer
20 September 2013
Scientists at the Medical College at Georgia Regents University have developed a test that gives early liver cancer cells a distinct red-brown hue that distinguishes them from nearly identical normal liver cells. Unlike healthy liver cells, cancerous liver cells contain a microRNA called mir-21, which binds to the dye and gives patients a chance against a disease that does not show symptoms until an advanced stage. “There is no definitive test for early diagnosis of liver cancer. Our test adds a level of comfort for making the diagnosis,” said Dr. Ravindra Kolhe, author of the study.
Dermatologic Side Effects from Sorafenib Linked to Better HCC Survival
18 September 2013
Researchers analyzed data from 147 HCC patients between October 2007 and July 2011 and found that 79 of those patients experienced dermatologic side effects because of sorafenib. Comparing the side effects vs. no side effects groups: median time to progression of HCC (8.1 months vs. 3.9 months) and overall survival (18.16 months vs. 10.1 months) improved. The researchers concluded, “Development of dermatologic adverse events within 60 days of sorafenib initiation is associated with better survival.”
Inexpensive Test Could Reveal Liver Cancer Risk
17 September 2013
Scientists at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center have developed the V-Chip, or volumetric-bar chart chip, which can be used to detect HCC biomarkers such as hepatitis B or C, aflatoxins and metabolic indicators of alcohol consumption, obesity or diabetes. The inexpensive device needs just a drop of blood or urine to test 50 different molecules and is meant to be used in tandem with traditional testing methods. “Most of the burden of HCC is borne by people who have low income, with the highest incidence rates reported in regions of the world where infection with hepatitis B virus is endemic. Developing an accurate and low-cost technology that assesses the risk of cancer could make a big difference to people who ordinarily can’t afford expensive tests,” said Lidong Qin, the project’s principal investigator.
Radiofrequency Ablation, Hepatic Resection Similarly Safe, Effective for Small HCC
17 September 2013
Researchers evaluated 659 HCC patients who underwent either percutaneous, ultrasound-guided radiofrequency ablation (RFA) or hepatic resection as initial curative therapy to compare outcomes. (Patients with poor liver function more often underwent RFA while patients with highly malignant tumors underwent resection.) Five years following the procedures, RFA survival vs. resection survival was 65% and 68%, respectively; recurrence-free survival rates were 27% and 26%, respectively. “There was no difference in either overall or recurrence-free survival between patients undergoing RFA and those treated surgically,” concluded the researchers.
Roche and Inovio Pharmaceuticals Partner on Inovio’s Prostate Cancer and Hepatitis B Immunotherapy Products
10 September 2013
Inovio’s DNA-based vaccine for hepatitis B, INO-1800, targets prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) and prostate specific antigen (PSA) and will be delivered via the company’s Cellectra® electroporation technology. The drug is in preclinical development and has generated robust T-cell responses in animal cell models. Janet Hammond, Head of Infectious Diseases Discovery and Translational Area at Roche was quoted, “We are very excited to have this potentially very important and novel mechanism of action as part of our portfolio as we seek to address the unmet medical need in chronic hepatitis B infection.”
Exelixis Initiates Phase 3 Clinical Trial of Cabozantinib in Patients with Advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma
10 September 2013
CELESTIAL is a randomized, double-blind placebo controlled phase III study of cabozantinib in HCC patients who have received prior treatment with sorafenib. The study will enroll 760 patients at up to 200 sites in 30 countries with overall survival as the primary endpoint. Cabozantinib inhibits both normal cellular function and pathologic processes that are involved in tumor genesis, growth and metastasis. Gisela Schwab, M.D., Executive VP and Chief Medical Office or Exelixis said that cabozantinib, “ …Was designed with the input of leading oncologists and HCC experts, and we believe that the data will provide important insight into the role that cabozantinib may play in improving the care of patients with the disease.”
MicroConstants China In-Licenses Phase 2 Liver Cancer Drug from Canadian Pertinax Therapeutics
9 September 2013
Pertinax’s liver cancer drug, PTX-9908, stops tumor metastases and has been tested in PhaseI/II clinical trials in North America. It has been shown to be safe and well tolerated in patients with unresectable HCC when used intravenously. Dr. Bev Incledon, President of Pertinax said the collaboration with MicroConstants will, “…Provide a potentially life-saving treatment to a large number of liver cancer patients with limited treatment options.”
Study Assesses Benefits of HBV Vaccine Program in Taiwan
4 September 2013
Researchers from the National Taiwan University in Taipei analyzed the 30-year outcomes of an HBV vaccine program begun in 1984. The study compared the mortality of infant fulminant hepatitis (IFH), chronic liver disease (CLD) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) before and after the immunization program went into effect. The largest declines in mortality in all groups coincided with the launch of the program with steady decline in the age and sex-adjusted ratios of all groups after that. “From 1977 –1980 to 2001 – 2004 the age and sex-adjusted ratios for individuals aged 5 – 29 decreased by more than 90% for CLD and HCC mortality and by more than 80% for HCC incidence.”
Research and Markets: Liver Cancer Drug Pipeline Update 2013
4 September 2013
The Update lists all drugs and gives a progress analysis on each one of them. There are 164 companies and their partners developing 196 drugs targeting liver cancer.
Peru: Liver Cancer Like No Other
3 September 2013
Worldwide, liver cancer is the 6th most common form of cancer in the world and the 3rd most deadly, but Peru has the highest incidence in South America. Mysteriously, the disease is concentrated in the Apimurac region of the Andes with 50% of the victims not matching the profile of those at risk. This anomalous group has an average age of 25 years, includes children, and for the most part do not suffer from hepatitis B or C or cirrhosis. Unlike the rest of the world, a full one-third of those afflicted are women and an additional Peruvian difference is that most of the patients have giant tumors larger than 10cm in diameter. Scientists have eliminated mycotoxins as a cause, but have to explore soil/water contamination or an infectious agent as the causal factor.
Cancer Experts Detail New Approaches to Liver Cancer Treatment with Stereotactic Ablative Radiotherapy
3 September 2013
Clinical experts from around the world made presentations on promising new approaches to treatment of HCC by radiosurgery with advanced imaging and motion management technology at the Taiwan Liver Cancer Association. Doctors at the University of Michigan have used stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR), a type of radiosurgery that uses 3-D image guidance, motion management and beam shaping, on over 400 HCC patients. Italian doctors using SABR technology on both inoperable primary liver cancer and liver metastases reported that all groups showed acceptable rates of tumor control with little treatment related toxicity after 12 months. Portuguese clinicians discussed single-dose, image-guided radiotherapy (SD-IGRT) delivered with the TrueBeam™ platform that delivers a high dose delivery rate which enables quick completion of once time-consuming procedures. Follow-up imaging studies show outstanding early local control rates with a lesion free-of-relapse rate of 95% after 12 months. Taiwanese oncologists reported on their success with using the TrueBeam™ system to deliver gated RapidArc radiosurgery in the treatment of liver cancer. “RapidArc speeds up highly precise radiosurgery treatments by constantly shaping and reshaping the treatment beam to match the shape of the tumor while delivering dose continuously as the treatment machine rotates around the patient.” This process allows surgeons to compensate for tumor motion and monitor patient breathing during the procedure.
ArQule to Cut Liver Cancer Drug Dose on Safety Concerns
3 September 2013
The company and its Japanese partner Daiichi Sankyo agreed to lower the dose of tivantinib from 240mg twice daily to 120mg for HCC patients, based on the recommendation of an independent safety committee. ArQule reduced the dose last year mid-trial, from 360mg to 240mg, due to a high occurrence of anemia and neutropenia in patients. There is some question now as to how effective tivantinib will be at this dose in treating HCC. “This is no doubt a string of bad luck, but whether or not it suggests that the drug will ultimately fail is premature,” stated MLV & Co. analyst George Zavoico.
Decompensated Cirrhosis Increases Risk of Liver Cancer for People with HIV and Viral Hepatitis Coinfection
3 September 2013
Spanish investigators examined incidence of HCC in people living with HIV who had cirrhosis in 2004 –2005. In the cohort of 371 patients, 95% had HCV coinfection and 5% had HBV coinfection; 75% were diagnosed with cirrhosis 3 years prior to the study and 26% had decompensated cirrhosis at the time of enrollment. “Our prospective cohort of cirrhotic patients with adequate control of HIV infection shows a relatively low probability of developing HCC. Incidence of HCC… is higher in patients with decompensated liver disease at baseline,” write the authors of the study.
Liver Cancer Due to Chronic Inflammation: Tumour Growth Follows Programmed Cell Death (Apoptosis)
30 August 2013
HCC is usually the result of a chronic inflammatory liver disease, which leads to self-induced liver cell death, which further leads to compensatory liver cell proliferation of a kind that can lead to tumor formation. Up until now, it was not clear which form of self-induced cell death, apoptosis (programmed cell death) or necroptosis (programmed necrosis) was most responsible for development of malignant tumors. German researchers have been able to verify that apoptosis precedes abnormal liver cell development. “We now know which cellular signaling pathways are involved in liver tumour development. In a further step we want to develop new treatment options, for example, by attempting to pharmaceutically block the apoptosis itself or the signaling pathways,” said Professor Doctor Mathias Heikenwalder from the Institute of Virology at the Helmholtz Zentrum, Munich.
Can-Fite to Initiate a Phase II Study with CF 102in 130 with Advanced Liver Cancer
28 August 2013
The biotechnology company Can-Fite BioPharma will conduct the study in the U.S., Europe and Israel based on successful achievement of Phase 1/2 trial goals. In the previous phase, CF 102 demonstrated a favorable safety profile and a favorable median overall survival time. CF 102 is a drug, which binds with high affinity and selectivity to the A3 adenosine receptor and induces a strong anti-tumor effect in HCC patients.
HCC Treatment Underutilized in the U.S.
27 August 2013
Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas conducted a systematic review of 24 data studies on treatment of HCC between January 1989 and March 2013. For the 16 studies that included data on curative or non-curative treatment, the median curative rate was 52.8%; for the 23 studies that included data on curative treatment, the median curative rate was 21.8%. Data on early-stage HCC patients across 18 studies showed a median curative rate of 59%. Five studies showed that older HCC patients had a poorer prognosis while gender showed no effect. Race had a negative impact on all forms of treatment, especially for African-Americans; lower socioeconomic status was also a negative factor.
Researchers from Niigata University Report Recent Findings in Cancer Gene Therapy
26 August 2013
Japanese researchers analyzed 740 elderly HCC patients from 1983 – 2011 to determine if active intervention was beneficial to patient survival. Five groups were divided by median age of participants: 61,64,67, 68 and 71. Using the treatment best suited for each patient, findings revealed that the younger group had significantly more frequent advanced disease than the middle-aged group, but that there was no difference between the middle-aged and older groups. Overall, the oldest group showed the best survival among the five different age groups and the youngest group showed the worst outcomes. “These results suggest that a therapeutic approach for HCC should not be restricted due to patient age,” concluded researchers.
Cellular Biomedicine Completes Enrollment for Phase I Hepatocellular Carcinoma Trial
23 August 2013
The company’s TC-DC (Tumor Stem Cell Specific Dendritic Cell) therapy is designed to lower the incidence of tumor recurrence and metastasis via autologous immune cell therapy in patients with HCC who have undergone tumor resection and TACE chemotherapy. The Phase I open label clinical trial will take place in Shanghai, China at PLA 85 hospital, a liver disease center. Cellular Biomedicine Group Vice President, Dr. Cheng Xiang, said,” We are pleased with this important achievement in the advancement of our therapy for liver cancer, and are on schedule to complete the Phase I trial in Q4 of this year.”
High Proportion of Canadian Patients with HIV-HCV Coinfection and Liver Cirrhosis are Not Having Ultrasounds to Check for Liver Cancer
22 August 2013
Canadian investigators studied adult patients coinfected with HIV and HCV with confirmed or possible liver cirrhosis across Canada from 2003 – 12 and found that a third of these patients did not have any ultrasoundography to screen for HCC. The authors speculated that physicians were more focused on control of the patients’ HCC and treatment of HCV than on monitoring the onset of HCC. The authors concluded, “The strongest predictor of having had screening was the presence of a systematic process in place to schedule and follow screening ultrasounds, usually with the involvement of a hepatologist. Methods to improve compliance with screening, such as patient and health-care worker education, financial support to attend visits and appropriate radiologic infrastructure should be explored to reduce the impact of HCC in the coninfected population.”
German Surgeons Operate Liver Cancer Using Tablet
22 August 2013
A first of its kind liver operation took place on August 15 with an app for tablets with software that can reconstruct a map of blood vessels in the liver to guide surgeons during surgery. Alexander Kohn, scientist in the company that developed the app said, “With our app, the entire set of planning data can be shown directly on the operating table.” The app helps surgeons in three ways: It helps them measure the length of vessels to be removed; it has a virtual eraser that removes vessels from the screen; and it tells surgeons which parts of the liver will no longer be supplied with blood, thereby increasing patient survival. Professor Karl Oldhafer Chief of Surgery at the hospital in Hamburg where the operation took place, said, “…With this new technology, we are able to better implement computer-supported operation planning for tumor removal.”
The Regional Ethical Review Board Approves Start of Immunicum’s Planned Liver Cancer Vaccine Study
21 August 2013
Intuvax ® is the company’s immunotherapy for primary liver cancer that employs tumor specific T-cells to activate the body’s immune system to attack tumor cells. This second trial will be conducted at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden, with the first of 12 patients to be recruited after the new year.
Liver Allografts Donated After Cardiac Death Reduced Survival in Transplant Recipients with HCC
15 August 2013
Researchers analyzed data from the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients between Jan. 1, 1995 and Oct. 31, 2011 and found that patient and graft survival following liver transplant with HCC patients were lower when using organs from cardiac death allografts. Subgroup analysis found that HCC patients who received donation following cardiac death (DCD) had improved survival if donor warm ischemia time (WIT) was 15 minutes or shorter or cold ischemia time (CIT) was 380 minutes or shorter. “This study demonstrates inferior survival for HCC patients receiving DCD allografts vs. those receiving DBD (donation following brain death) allografts. It also demonstrates a trend of inferior survival for HCC-DCD patients with prolonged WITs and statistically significant inferior survival for patients with prolonged CITs,” concluded researchers.
Tekmira Pharma Initiates Clinical Trial With TKM-PLK1
12 August 2013
Tekmira will in start the Phase I/II trial, enrolling patients with hepatocellular carcinoma, in the first half of 2014. The company’s RNAi therapy utilizes a mechanism used by all cells to silence disease-causing genes that show promise in the fight against HCC.
RFA Yields Better Outcomes Than Resection in Elderly Patients with Early HCC
12 August 2013
In a retrospective comparative study in China from January 2003 – 07, researchers found that patients older than 65 years with early or very early HCC had better overall survival and recurrence-free rates with radio frequency ablation versus hepatic resection. RFA was deemed safer for elderly patients and fewer of them experienced fever, higher-grade pain, ascites, hepatic failure and pleural effusion than patients that underwent hepatic resection. Their hospital stay was also shorter. Researchers concluded, “RFA was efficacious and safe for elderly patients with HCC within the very early or early stage. The results were especially good for patients with HCC smaller than 3cm.”
MultiCell Technologies and Genisphere Evaluate Targeted Delivery of MCT-485, a Non-Coding miRNA for the Treatment of Cancer
6 August 2013
MCT-485 is a micro-RNA, targeted nanoparticle therapeutic that has shown oncolytic and immune stimulating outcomes in the treatment of HCC and could be superior to other currently marketed chemotherapies including doxorubicin and cisplatin. MultiCell and Genisphere will investigate the use of MCT-485 via targeted delivery to protect normal tissue, as well as meet several criteria: 1) safe delivery via venous or arterial infusion and intra-tumoral administration; 2) increased bioavailability within tumor and tumor cells, respectively; 3) formulate synthetic miRNA with one or more immune modulating and cytotoxic modes of action.
Novartis Phase III Study of Afinitor in Advanced Liver Cancer Fails to Meet Primary Endpoint
6 August 2013
The Phase III EVOLVE Study evaluated efficacy and safety of Afinitor (everolimus) versus placebo and best supportive care (BSC) in adult patients with advanced HCC whose disease had progressed after treatment with or who were intolerant to sorafenib therapy. Afinitor did not extend overall survival in patients with locally advanced or metastatic HCC and Novartis will not pursue regulatory filings of the drug in this indication. “While we are disappointed with these results, Novartis remains committed to studying everolimus through a robust research and development program to address unmet needs in different types of cancer,” stated Alessandro Riva, Global Head, Oncology Development and Medial Affairs, Novartis Oncology.
Liver Cancer Deaths Double in Two Decades
5 August 2013
The National AIDS Treatment Advocacy Project (NATAP) reports that in 1990 an estimated 9,300 Americans died from liver cancer and that number doubled to 19,500 in 2010. During that span, there was also a 43% jump in death from cirrhosis, a major cause of liver cancer. “Overall, liver cancer contributed to 184,000 years of lost life (YLL) due to premature mortality in 1990 and 398,000 in 2010. Cirrhosis, also a major consequence of hep C, caused 35,000 and 917,300 YLLs in 1990 and 49,500 deaths and 1,232,700 YLLs in 2010.”
CSC Completes Internal Study of Cancer Immunotherapy Platform
2 August 2013
California Stem Cell, Inc., is owner of a proprietary immunotherapeutic method that purifies tumor stem cells isolated from a patient’s own tumor tissue in order for it to be used as an antigenic source. The company originally developed the method for late stage metastatic melanoma, but the platform tissue technology has been shown to be effective in treatment of other cancers, including hepatocellular carcinoma. CSC has also reduced production time of this technology from months to weeks and can generate lines with potential applicability to a broad range of cancer types with a success rate of 100%. Gabriel Nistor, M.D., CSC Vice President of research and development stated: “Such significant improvements in manufacturing time and success rate are critical when working with late stage cancers that typically have a short window for treatment.” CSC is completing a Phase I clinical trial of its stem cell-based treatment for liver cancer.
Dicerna Raises $60M, Will Test Cancer Drug in Trials
1 August 2013
The Watertown, Massachusetts-based pharmaceutical company will begin a clinical trial to advance its drug DCR-M1711 early next year targeting liver cancer. The drug is designed to turn off a gene that drives cancer and if it does well, company CEO Douglas M. Fambrough says it could be on the market in five years. “We really want to get things done quickly. But five years is fast in cancer research,” stated Fambrough.
Obesity and Diabetes Damage Your Liver
Hepatocellular carcinoma in North America was once rare, but with the number of overweight, obese and type-2 diabetes positive people on the rise, that is changing. These conditions deposit fat into the liver, which involves inflammation in a condition called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) which can degenerate into cirrhosis and HCC. NASH is a subset of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) which is the most common liver disease worldwide affecting an estimated 10 – 24% of the world population. In the U.S. one-half of the population is overweight and one-quarter is obese which amounts to 29 million Americans afflicted with NAFLD. Simple lifestyle modifications, such as a low-saturated fat/cholesterol/trans-fat diet, a lower glycemic diet and regular endurance exercise can lower the unhealthy liver enzymes ALT and AST into the normal range as body fat declines.
“HCC-4 Risk Score” IDs Hepatitis C Patients Likely To Develop HCC
31 July 2013
Investigators at University Hospital Virgin de la Victoria Malaga, Spain reviewed 17 years of data on patients with chronic hepatitis C to develop a risk score that was more accurate at predicting HCC than the commonly used fibrosis index. The formula used the four most predictive risk factors of HCC: patient age, platelet count, gamma globulin level and alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) levels and established cutoff ranges for low, medium and high risk. The score could help doctors target only the highest risk patients for annual surveillance, “…which is crucial because current screening methods are too invasive, too expensive and too low-yield to be applied broadly across all risk groups.” The score could also identify patients with chronic hepatitis C who are at low risk for developing HCC.
Nigeria: Rising Prevalence of Hepatitis Worries NMA
29 July 2013
The Nigerian Medical Association has called for the subsidization of the cost of liver cancer and liver failure in the country and marked World Hepatitis Day with the theme: This is Hepatitis; Know It; Confront It. “Hepatitis B prevalence is estimated at 8% in West Africa while prevalence of hepatitis C is about 10% in parts of Africa. Indeed, about 20 – 25% of Africa’s population is chronic hepatitis carriers with liver cancer prevalent among affected individuals, with men in the 30 – 45 age group severely affected with almost 100% mortality, as well as great social and economic impact,” said NMA President Dr. Osahon Enabulele. The President urged strengthened prevention, screening and control of viral hepatitis and its related diseases as well as incorporating the hepatitis B vaccine into the national immunization program.
Many People With Liver Infections Ignoring Condition
27 July 2013
According to the Taiwanese Health Promotion Administration (HPA), liver cancer is the second leading cause of death in the country and 90% of those victims have hepatitis B or C. HPA reports that 70% of liver cancer victims were HBV carriers and that 20% had active HCV infections when they died. An administration survey showed that while 90% of participants understood the importance of follow-up examinations and regular treatment in containing HBV and HCV infections, 30% of participants who were aware that they were infected had not been seeking medical attention. The survey also found that 80% of respondents thought that “staying up late” was one of the main causes of liver disease.
Innovative Cancer Treatment Supported by NICE
24 July 2013
The United Kingdom’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has green-lit routine use of Selective Internal Radiation Therapy (SIRT) for British patients with inoperable HCC. SIRT delivers millions of microspheres coated with the beta-emitting radioactive isotope yttrium-90 directly to the tumor via the hepatic artery giving localised treatment and preserving surrounding healthy tissue. The NICE guidelines mean that eligible National Health Service patients will have more of a chance of getting the life-saving procedure.
Obesity Can Lead To Liver Disease
24 July 2013
The most common, chronic liver disease in all developed countries, including the United States, is nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), according to researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The disease occurs where more than 5% of liver cells contain abnormally high concentrations of fat and can be divided into two broad types: simple steatosis (without inflammation) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (fatty liver with inflammation). The majority of patients with NAFLD have steatosis; nonalcoholic steatohepatitis is the more serious form of fatty liver disease and can lead to cirrhosis and primary liver cancer. NAFLD is more associated with overeating than overconsumption of alcohol and prominent risk factors besides obesity include high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels and diabetes mellitus.
Occult, Overt HBV Coinfection Predictive of Outcomes from HCV-Associated HCC
16 July 2013
Researchers at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Linko, Taiwan studied non-cancerous liver tissue taken from HCV-associated hepatocellular carcinoma patients who underwent total surgical removal of their tumors. “In HCV-associated hepatocellular carcinoma, patients with overt HBV coinfection had a better postoperative prognosis, whereas patients with occult HBV coinfection had a poorer post-operative prognosis,” said Chau-Ting Yeh, M.D., Ph.D., and Director of the Liver Research Center at the hospital.
Cancer Among Asian Americans
14 July 2013
Cancer is the leading cause of death for Asian Americans and liver cancer is one of the most common types. It is estimated that 1 in 12 Asian Americans live with chronic hepatitis B infection, but most do not know that this is a risk factor for liver cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) launched the Know Hepatitis B Campaign on June 12, the first national, multilingual and multi-year public awareness effort to increase hepatitis B testing among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). The goal of the campaign is to improve awareness, testing and treatment to improve overall health outcomes for AAPIs. The National Cancer Institute advises everyone to get a blood test because there is treatment for hepatitis B patients that slows the damage to the liver. For those that don’t, they can protect themselves with the hepatitis B vaccine that involves getting three shots taken over six months.
Surefire Infusion System Found Safe and Effective for Delivery of 90Y in Treating Inoperable Liver Cancer
10 July 2013
The Surefire system delivers yttrium-90 radioembolization to a tumor through a microcatheter with a novel, proprietary expandable tip that collapses in forward flow and dynamically expands to the vessel wall to insure precise delivery, minimal reflux and minimal damage to healthy tissue. These advances may allow doctors to safely extend liver cancer treatment to patients who were previously deemed at risk for any treatment. A case study of the procedure in the Journal of Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiology, found that three patients, including one who had no other treatment option, suffered no complications from the procedure and that all were discharged the following day. Surefire Medical CEO Jim Chomas, “These case studies add to the rapidly growing body of clinical evidence indicating that the Surefire Infusion System safely, efficiently and precisely delivers therapy. It may contribute not only to enhanced treatment effectiveness, but also to the palliation of cancers to improve quality of life.”
IntegraGen Announces the Publication of the Results of an International Study with its 5-Gene Prognostic Molecular Signature for Hepatocellular Carcinoma Patients in Gastroenterology
8 July 2013
IntegraGen, a French biotech company focused on developing molecular diagnostic tests in the fields of autism and oncology, says the molecular signature study accurately predicts clinical prognosis of HCC patients who are being considered for resection of their diseased liver. The company’s proprietary 5-gene method was validated in independent patient cohorts from France, Spain, Italy, Japan, China and the United States and more accurately predicted HCC patient outcomes than previously reported gene expression signatures. Jessica Zucman-Rossi, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Medicine, Oncology, University of Paris Descartes, stated: “This is the first time that doctors will be able to identify patients with relatively good prognosis for which support will be truly personalized and allow them to benefit from all of the medical and surgical options which exist or are being developed.”
Bpifrance Grants Nanobiotix 9 Million Euros to Advance NBTXR3 for Liver Cancer
5 July 2013
The grant supports the launch of a French consortium of partners that specialize in nanomedicine. Nanobiotix is a clinical-stage nanomedicine company spearheading new approaches for the local treatment of cancer. NBTXR3, the company’s lead product, has been used in studies for other cancers and has now been earmarked for a new Phase I clinical study in patients with primary liver cancer.
Preliminary Results Suggest Safety, Efficacy of Tremelimumab as HCC, HCV Therapy
2 July 2013
HCC and chronic HCV patients in a Phase 2 trial have shown antitumoral and antiviral responses to tremelimumab at the Liver Unit at Clinica Universidad de Navarra in Pamplona, Spain. Tremelimumab, a drug that stimulates the immune system to potentially fight tumors, brought about partial tumor responses in 17.6% of cases and stable disease rates in 76.4% of cases in the trial. The most common side effects of the drug were elevated AST and ALT levels, skin rash and fatigue; there were no treatment-related deaths.
New Evidence for Genetic Bases of Liver Cancer Reported
1 July 2013
The Asian Cancer Research Group (ACRG) published findings in Genome Research that show recurring mutations of HCC tumors. Using whole genome sequencing, researchers identified the three most frequently mutated oncogenes that were implicated in HCC or HBV-associated HCC. “Liver cancer is intractable to nearly all currently available anti-cancer targeted therapies. Our findings in this study provide a better understanding of the molecular basis of hepatocarcinogenesis and provide new clues to improving the diagnosis and treatment of liver cancer in the future,” stated Hancheng Zheng, group leader of the project at BGI, partner with ACRG.
Gut Microbes Spur Liver Cancer in Obese Mice
26 June 2013
Senescent cells are those that are irreparably damaged or pre-cancerous that stop dividing for the overall health of the organism; before they die they can spew out chemicals that may cause inflammation and promote cancer development. Scientists wanted to know why senescent cells were involved in obesity-induced cancers and discovered that a chemical called deoxycholic acid (DCA) was the cause. A by-product of metabolism in intestinal bacteria, DCA is created by the conversion of bile acids by certain microbes that then enter the bloodstream and travel to the liver. The obese mice used in the study had more DCA-producing bacteria in their guts and when given antibiotics to clear the gut of the harmful bacteria the mice developed fewer liver tumors. Peter Turnbaugh, a systems biologist at Harvard University Cambridge, Massachusetts, commented regarding the study: “They’ve uncovered a nice story.”
Experts Warn of a Liver Cancer Time Bomb
25 June 2013
According to the Australian Cancer Council, approximately 220,000 Australians have chronic hepatitis B, but less than half of those affected are aware they carry the disease. Those of Aboriginal background or born overseas in Asian-Pacific countries where it is endemic are at most risk. For those with hepatitis B that has progressed to liver cancer the prognosis is poor with recent data from Victoria showing that one-third of patients died within a month of their cancer diagnosis. “Currently only 3% of people living with hepatitis B (in Australia) are on treatment, and nearly half don’t know they’ve got it,” said Craig Sinclair, Cancer Council Victoria prevention director. “For people with active liver disease from hepatitis B, modern treatments can reduce the risk of developing liver cancer by up to 75% within 5 years.”
Lamivudine Therapy for HBV Reduced HCC Incidence Rate
25 June 2013
Researchers evaluated data from a study on the impact of the antiviral drug lamivudine for the treatment of chronic HBV and subsequent development of HCC. During the follow-up of 3,306 HBV patients over 43 months, the risk of HCC was significantly reduced compared to 3,585 patients who received no therapy for the same period. “Our meta-analysis demonstrates that LAM therapy is associated with a [more than 50%] reduction in the incidence of HCC among chronic HBV patients compared to no treatment,” concluded the researchers. “ Although we did not observe a difference in the incidence of HCC based on the individual agent prescribed, additional prospective studies are needed that control for the confounders of subject age, gender, cirrhosis, and HCC detection method to better estimate the risk of developing HCC among those receiving the newer antiviral agents.”
(CNW) Treatment of Primary Liver Cancer: SARAH Study Now Available for All Eligible Patients Throughout France
24 June 2013
The SARAH Study is looking for 400 patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma to participate in France. A French national collaborative randomized controlled trial of radioembolization with yttrium-90 resin microspheres (SIR-Spheres®), SARAH is an alternative to the standard treatment of sorafenib with radioembolization, which has lower median overall survival and more side effects than treatment with Y-90. To date, SIR-Spheres ® is approved for use in Australia, New Zealand, the European Union, Switzerland, Turkey, India, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and the US.
Low Fat Intake Tied to Poor Recovery From HCC Therapy
24 June 2013
Researchers analyzed the dietary intake of 35 HCC patients before and after hospitalization and found that those with a lower fat intake were slower to recover from invasive therapies. The researchers concluded: “Because a hypermetabolic state and inappropriate nutritional usage may hamper the calculation of an exact energy requirement in cirrhotic patients, nutritional supports should be conducted based on a nutritional assessment.”
(CNW) Older Liver Cancer Patients Respond to Radioembolisation Using SIR-Spheres Equally as Well as Younger Patients, New Study in Journal of Hepatology Says
20 June 2013
Analysis from the European Network on Radioembolisation with Yttrium-90 Resin Microspheres (ENRY) on 325 HCC patients found almost identical long-term outcomes following SIR-Spheres treatment in patients aged 70 and above compared to those below age 70. The treatment was well tolerated in both groups and gives another option for older HCC patients who may suffer adverse events from first-line treatment sorafenib. Commenting on the study, Dr. Bruno Sangro, M.D., PhD., Director of the Liver Unit at Clinica Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain said:”… The benefits we observed apply as much to older patients as younger ones, with some potential benefit for embolisation based on its relatively mild side-effect profile compared to other treatments for this very serious disease. These patients have few other treatment options.”
Discovery Could Enable Targeted Liver Cancer Therapy
20 June 2013
SALL4 is a potent stem cell gene found in human fetuses for early development, but inactive in healthy adult livers. Researchers discovered that the expression of SALL4 is linked to a more aggressive subgroup of HCC, which could help with patient prognosis: a higher SALL4 level means the patient should be considered for a more aggressive treatment regimen. Additionally, researchers found that SALL4 plays a part in liver tumor formation which means that live cancer cells can be blocked or their tumor-creating ability blocked by suppressing the gene.
Cancer Surgery Successfully Performed Through Key Hole
14 June 2013
A 72-year-old, overweight Indian woman with liver cancer showing early signs of failure was deemed a high risk for open surgery. The minimally invasive keyhole procedure was performed and the patient is now cured of the disease. Ajmal M. Habeeb, hospital managing director, said the main advantages of keyhole surgeries are minimal post-operative lung complications, small post-operative scar tissue, less pain, earlier mobilization of the patient, a shorter hospital stay and an earlier return to work.
CUHK-HCC Score Accurately Predicts Risk of Liver Cancer in Chronic Hepatitis B Patients Receiving Antiviral Therapy
13 June 2013
Chinese researchers wanted to develop a simple test for family doctors to determine cancer risk for HBV based on age, albumin, bilirubin, viral load and cirrhosis. Patients were scored into a high or low HCC risk group and the test predicted with accuracy their risk of developing the disease within 5 years. “CUHK’S research team recommends that patients in the high risk category should keep an eye on their CUHK-HCC score and perform regular cancer screening even if they are already on antiviral medication, while patients with low cancer risk should be monitored with the prediction score once a year.”
Celsion Corporation Issues Statement Regarding Misleading Blog Entry
12 June 2013
Since the company reported that Thermodox, in combination with radio frequency ablation (RFA), did not meet the Phase III HEAT study’s primary endpoint in fighting HCC last January, the company has conducted a comprehensive post hoc analysis of the findings. Thermodox improves progression free survival and overall survival in patients from both lesion size cohorts of the study if the lesions undergo RFA for 45 minutes or more. Overall survival improved 53% over the control arm RFA-only patients. Despite the fact that the HEAT study has not reached its median point for overall survival analysis and that the Hazard Ratio is significant, researchers believe this data to be encouraging and; “…investigators in the HEAT Study have expressed significant interest in participating in a follow-on clinical trial.”
It’s Not Just Heavy Drinkers, Even Teetotalers Are Prone To Fatty Liver, Reveals Study
9 June 2013
In a study from the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology in India, scientists have discovered that people carrying the Patatin-like phospholipase-3 (PNPLA3) gene have double the chance of developing fatty liver disease regardless of whether the person drinks alcohol or not. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) can lead to cirrhosis and primary liver cancer. Indians have a higher prevalence of fatty liver compared to Europeans and one-third of the urban population in India will have fatty liver disease. “Fatty liver is the most common liver disease worldwide and… if not managed well, it could lead to progressive liver dysfunction and in some cases cirrhosis of the liver and cancer in others,” said Dr. Anoop Misra, chairman, National Diabetes, Obesity and Cholesterol Foundation.
Vitamin D Is Among The Best Vitamins For Your Liver; New Study Shows Connection Between Deficiency And Hepatitis B Virus
6 June 2013
German researchers confirm an association between high concentrations of HBV in the blood and low levels of vitamin D. Data showed that 34% of patients carrying HBV were vitamin D deficient, 47% were vitamin D insufficient and 29% were at a normal level of vitamin D. Previous research showed no connection between vitamin D levels and HCV concentration in the blood. “Vitamin D helps maintain a healthy immune system and there is evidence of its role in inflammatory and metabolic liver disease… however the relationship between vitamin D metabolism and chronic HBV infection remains unknown and is the focus of our study,” stated Dr. Christian Lange from Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Hospital in Frankfurt, Germany.
Targeted Stimulation of Immune Pathway May Help Body Fight Back Against Liver Cancer
5 June 2013
The innate immune system is stimulated by certain viral infections by the toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3 )protein, but it may also kill certain cancers. Mouse model experiments showed that TLR3 stimulation causes tumor cells to self-destruct while simultaneously causing innate immune cells to attack the tumor from the outside. TLR3 signaling continued even from remnants of dead tumor cells accelerating the immune attack. “The triggering of TLR3 kick-starts a positive feedback loop that creates more cell death, and triggers more activation of TLR3 in both tumor and natural killer cells,” said Valerie Chew, postdoctoral researcher and lead author of the paper. This research may explain how, in previous human HCC studies, high TLR3 levels in both tumor cells and immune cells led to increased time of survival.
Liver Cancer Rates on the Rise In Canada New Stats Reveal
29 May 2013
The annual Canadian Cancer Statistics report for 2013 says that while many types of cancer are stabilizing or falling, live cancer is on the rise: 3.6% per year for men and 1.7% for women. Approximately 2100 Canadians will be diagnosed with liver cancer this year; 1550 men and 490 women with 1000 deaths estimated. Liver cancer typically causes no symptoms which leads to late detection and the high death rate. If the disease is caught early, the patients have a 70 – 80% chance of survival; if it is caught late, the average person dies within a year. Only 20% of patients live past five years of a diagnosis. Many cases are preventable if risk factors such as heavy alcohol use, obesity, diabetes and smoking are managed. Two of the biggest risk factors are hepatitis C, which accounts for 30-50% of primary liver cancer cases in North America and hepatitis B, which accounts for 23% of cases in the developed world. An estimated 600,000 Canadians are living with a chronic hepatitis B or C infection, but early detection can prevent liver cancer and there is a vaccine that can treat a hepatitis B infection.
On World Digestive Health Day, EFW Radiology Launches the Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) Screening Program in Partnership with the University of Calgary Liver Unit
29 May 2013
Designed to combat HCC, one of the few cancers on the rise in North America, the program refers patients to sub-specialized radiologists who images them with an HCC specific scan. Doctors in the Liver Unit will develop a unique strategy based on these medical findings. “This program has been tailor-made to insure patients get regular and accurate diagnoses, followed by customized care,” said Dr. Houman Mahallati, Managing Partner at EFW Radiology.
Cellular Biomedicine Group Announces Enrollment Milestone for Phase 1 Clinical Trial for Liver Cancer
22 May 2013
The company announced that it has achieved half of projected enrollment for its TC-DC (Tumor Stem Cell Specific Dendritic Cell) therapy for HCC being conducted in China. The trial’s endpoint is to evaluate safety and efficacy of the immune cell therapy in reducing tumor recurrence and metastasis in primary HCC patients who have undergone standard tumor resection and TACE chemotherapy. Dr. William Cao, President of Cellular Biomedicine Group, said, “We are excited about the potential of this therapy to not only extend life, but to maintain a high quality of life by not subjecting the patient to dramatic chemotherapy and its adverse effects.”
4SC’s Partner Yakult Honsha Starts Clinical Phase I/II Study With Cancer Compound Resminostat In Liver Cancer (HCC) In Japan
21 May 2013
“Resminostat is an oral pan-histonedeacetylaste (HDAC) inhibitor with an innovative epigenetic mechanism of action that potentially enables the compound to be deployed as a novel, targeted tumor therapy for a broad spectrum of oncological indications, both as a monotherapy and, in particular, with other cancer drugs.” Phase 1, the dose-escalation part of the study, will evaluate safety and tolerability, determine maximum tolerated dose (MTD) and potential dose-limiting toxicites (DLT) of the resminostat/sorafenib combination with the goal of determining a recommended dose (RD) for Phase 2. This next phase will be randomized and compare the effectiveness of sorafenib alone with a combination therapy of resminostat and sorafenib in patients with advanced HCC. This study marks the first use of resminostat in Japan, as well as the first exploration of the drug as a first-line treatment for advanced HCC. Said Enno Spillner, CEO and CFO of 4SC: …”We are currently in preparations of the next advanced clinical development steps for resminostat in combination with sorafenib in first-line HCC in the Western population, as well.”
Study: HIV Infection Does Not Adversely Affect Outcomes of Liver Transplantation for Hepatocellular Carcinoma
10 May 2013
Liver transplantation is viable for HCC patients who are HIV-positive, according to an Italian multicenter study, the largest of its kind to date. HIV-positive patients experience a more aggressive course of HCC due to the tumor-enhancing effects of HIV proteins and due to the success of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in prolonging the lives of this population. Researchers found overall post-transplant survival for HIV-infected patients and non-infected patients at 1 year (77% vs. 86.4%) and 3 years (65% vs. 70%), respectively, to be similar. “The key message of this study is that liver transplantation is a valid option for HCC treatment in HIV-infected patients. We suggest that HIV-infected patients must be offered the same liver transplant options for HCC treatment currently provided to HIV-uninfected subjects,” concluded Dr. Di Benedetto and colleagues at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy.
Isis Pharmaceuticals Announces The Initiation of a Clinical Study of ISIS-STAT3( Rx) in Patients with Liver Cancer
6 May 2013
STAT3 is a gene that blocks natural cell death and is crucial for tumor cell growth and survival and inhibition of STAT3 has been shown to be effective in difficult to treat cancers such as HCC. The safety and efficacy of ISIS-STAT3 in patients with HCC who have failed first-line therapy will be evaluated in the Phase 1b/2a study. “The potency we have observed in our preclinical cancer studies and the early evidence of clinical activity we observed in our Phase 1 study suggests that ISIS-STAT3 (Rx) could be an effective anti-tumor agent that is broadly applicable to many different types of cancer,” commented Brett Monia, PhD., Senior Vice President, Antisense Drug Discovery at Isis.
FDA Advisors Recommend Against Delcath’s Cancer Therapy
2 May 2013
Every year 2800 Americans develop ocular melanoma and according to Delcath Systems, Inc., 70% of those patients will develop liver cancer within 2 – 5 years of the onset of the disease. The company’s drug-device therapy, known as the Melblez Kit, delivers the chemo drug melphalan hydrochloride via the Delcath Hepatic Delivery System. Unfortunately, the procedure has, “…a high treatment related mortality rate, “ according to the FDA and an independent panel of experts voted 16 – 0 to not recommend the therapy. Delcath Chief Executive Eamonn Hobbs said, “While we were disappointed in today’s outcome, we will continue to work closely with the FDA throughout its ongoing investigation of the Melblez Kit.”
Alcohol Consumption, Metabolic Risk Factors Tied to Cirrhosis, Hepatocellular Carcinoma
30 April 2013
According to the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL), patients with a high BMI and alcohol intake are at an increased risk for liver-related morbidity and death compared to patients with a low BMI and alcohol intake. In another study of liver transplant recipients with alcoholic cirrhosis, patients with steatosis and metabolic risk factors such as obesity and/or diabetes had a significantly higher incidence of HCC. “More research is required to determine the exact thresholds for each risk factor that independently and in combination increase the risk of chronic liver disease, but this is an important first step in the right direction,” commented Daniele Prati M.D., EASL Scientific Committee Member.
Saint Louis University Hospital Offering Y90 Radioembolization For Liver Cancer
29 April 2013
Radioembolization, also called Selective Internal Radiation Therapy or SIRT, implants radioactive microspheres (yttrium-90) to selectively target tumors while sparing the remaining healthy liver tissue. The spheres remain next to the tumor, killing cancer cells, and decay over the course of two weeks. The procedure can be done on an outpatient basis for advanced stage liver cancer patients with metastatic or primary liver tumors. “It’s been well tolerated by our patients and they’ve been doing really well,” said Rotimi Johnson, M.D., interventional radiologist St. Louis University Hospital.
Novel Screening Tests for Liver
26 April 2013
Current screening tests to detect HCC- alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) and ultrasound- while effective, reportedly have low sensitivity and specificity. Preliminary data from a study in West Africa demonstrates that a simple urine test could improve detection of HCC and give patients a better chance of fighting the disease. Detailed analysis of urinary nuclear magnetic resonance spectra showed distinct markers for patients with HCC to a higher degree than present screening procedures. General Secretary of the European Association for the Study of the Liver, Professor Mark Thursz said, “These findings will be welcomed by physicians as they validate urinary metabolic profiling as a potential screening tool for HCC.”
Cardio Could Hold Key to Cancer Cure
26 April 2013
Research presented at the International Liver Congress 2013 showed the results of a study on the effect of diet and exercise on mice. Two groups, one on a control diet the other a high fat diet, were divided into separate exercise and sedentary groups with the exercise group running on a motorized treadmill 60 minutes a day, five days a week. Following 32 weeks of regular exercise, 71% of mice on the controlled diet developed tumors 10mm or larger versus 100%in the sedentary group. Said Professor Jean-Francois Dufour, Educational Councillor of the European Association for the Study of the Liver: “The results could eventually lead to some very tangible benefits for people staring down the barrel of liver cancer and I look forward to seeing human studies in this important area in the future.”
Developments in TACE and SIRT Treatment in Patients
26 April 2013
Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) is a standard-of-care treatment for intermediate-stage HCC in which nanoparticles designed to block blood vessels are coated with chemotherapeutic drugs and are injected directly into an artery supplying the tumor. A new scoring system has been presented which determines which HCC patients would receive the most benefit from TACE, determined by its effect on liver function and tumor response. “These findings represent an important discovery as they will enable physicians to identify and treat those HCC patients who will benefit from repeat TACE sessions. Furthermore, rounds of ineffective treatment, as well as any associated side effects and complications, can be avoided for those patients not likely to respond,” said European Association for the Study of the Liver Vice-Secretary Professor Markus Peck-Radosavljevic.
Celsion Changes Tack, Says Thermodox May Prove Viable as Liver Cancer Treatment
23 April 2013
Just months after warning of the drug’s inefficacy, the company says that further analysis of Thermodox, a heat activated form of chemotherapy delivered directly to the tumor, works. Cancer experts and investigators found Thermodox to significantly improve patients’ survival when they undergo a radio frequency ablation procedure for 45 minutes or more. Celsion Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nicholas Borys commented, “We have completed a thorough review of the HEAT study and there is clear evidence that Thermodox can benefit patients when RFA is optimized.”
New Invasive Tumor Ablation Technique Provides Hope For Liver Cancer Patients
18 April 2013
Researchers at the University of Regensberg in Germany treated 22 liver cancer patients who didn’t respond to conventional treatment with irreversible electroporation and destroyed tumor tissue in 70% of the patients. While there were two major complications with patients in the study, neither were life threatening, the minimally invasive procedure is a ray of hope for patients who can’t undergo surgery or thermal ablation. “If one considers that IRE was really the only option for these patients, the results are very promising,” said Dr. Philip Wiggermann, lead author of the study.
Liver Cancers Armed With Many Strategies for Evading Immune Response
18 April 2013
Researchers at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) measured multiple parameter of immune suppression simultaneously, which gave a clearer picture of extreme immune dysfunction in the HCC liver. They found that HCC patients have an unusually high amount and variety of immunosuppressive cells that inhibit immunotherapies and facilitate tumor growth. Dr. Yasmin Thanavala, PhD., Professor of Oncology in the Department of Immunology, learned, “…that immunotherapies that have been shown to deplete these particular suppressor cells are likely to be effective in restoring immune function for HCC patients- especially when combined with approaches that bolster the cancer-fighting T cells.”
NanoStrings Nabs License to Liver Cancer Gene Signature
17 April 2013
Researchers at the Broad Institute have discovered a 186-gene signature that identifies those HCC patients with a poor prognosis due to a high recurrence rate after primary treatment. This gene signature had a high correlation with survival in a group of Japanese HCC patients and was further validated in a larger group of American and European patients. The study also showed that the gene signature identified those patients with hepatitis C-related early stage cirrhosis who have a poor prognosis because of their high likelihood of developing HCC. “By identifying those HCC patients who are at the greatest risk of recurrence, doctors may choose to monitor these patients more regularly or to enter them into clinical trials in the adjuvant setting to reduce the risk of HCC recurrence,” said Josep M. Llovet M.D., professor of medicine and director of the HCC Program, Liver Diseases, Mt. Sinai.
Study on Targeted Liver Cancer Therapy Called SIR-Spheres Microspheres Completes Patient Recruitment
16 April 2013
The aim of the SIRFLOX study is to determine whether first-line, standard-of-care chemotherapy plus SIR-Spheres® is better at delaying cancer progression than chemotherapy alone in patients with inoperable liver metastases from primary colorectal cancer. Up to now, SIR-Spheres has been a last line medical treatment. Recruitment has garnered the participation of 100 leading hospitals globally over a 6-year period with the primary endpoint of the study being progression-free survival. Global Principal Investigator at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Professor Peter Gibbs, said, ”Over the past decade we have seen mostly incremental improvements in the treatment options for patients with advanced colorectal cancer. Clinicians and their patients need new options and the results of the SIRFLOX study will be eagerly anticipated.”
Tekmira’s Collaboration Partner, NCI Presents Preclinical Results of Nanoparticle-Based Combinatorial siRNA Therapy
11 April 2013
Tekmira’s RNAi therapy utilizes a mechanism used by all cells to silence disease causing genes and results from their Phase I TKM-PLK1 clinical trial show promise in the fight against hepatocellular carcinoma. Two novel cancer genes from human tumor samples have been identified and preclinical results show that siRNA versions of these genes induced a statistically significant decrease in tumor size in animals given the therapy. Referring to the partnership with NCI, Tekmira President and CEO, Mark J. Murray said,”…Together we have generated promising preclinical data with this combination by leveraging our expertise in siRNA design and delivery.”
Researchers Evaluate Pexa-Vec to Slow Progression of Liver Cancer
10 April 2013
A multi-center clinical trial conducted by the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine is administering Pexa-Vec (JX-594), a genetically engineered virus that is used in the smallpox vaccine, to HCC patients. This randomized phase 2b trial accepts HCC patients who have been unresponsive to sorafenib with the goal of comparing overall survival for patients receiving the drug with palliative care to patients who receive palliation alone. Said Tony Reid, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at UC San Diego, “The goal of the trial is to evaluate if Pexa-Vec can extend patients’ survival through its ability to selectively target and kill cancer cells, cut off the tumor’s blood supply, and activate the body’s own immune system to fight the cancer.”
Lay Forum Underscores Importance of Liver Health
10 April 2013
Poor diet, lifestyle and the exclusion of liver screening as part of a regular health check contribute to liver cancer’s top five ranking in deaths in the Philippines, but a forum at St. Luke’s-Global City’s Liver Disease and Transplant Center is trying to change that. Lectures on liver health and care during disease, vaccinations, transplantation, as well as an open forum with a panel of experts will explain, clarify and answer questions that the public may have. In addition, the forum will give the first 50 participants who register a free shearwave elastography (SWE), a special type of ultrasound that gives an accurate picture of the liver without a biopsy. “The main objective of this lay forum is to see a decline in the number of people affected by liver disease in the next generations. With awareness, people will consult, be treated and be given precautions,” said Hepatobiliary and Laparoscopic Surgeon Dr. Wilfredo T. Polido, Jr., of St. Luke’s.
Liver Resection, Radio Frequency Ablation Treated HCC in Cirrhotic Patients Comparably
9 April 2013
In a multicenter Italian 4-year study, 544 patients with HCC and cirrhosis had similar survival and tumor recurrence with either liver resection or RFA and that the treatment should be tailored to the needs of the patient. Researchers concluded that,” Ablation should be chosen in patients with severe portal hypertension… and/or with centrally located tumors. Surgery should be preferred in patients without severe PH, with peripheral tumors or with tumors located near the gallbladder, main biliary ducts, bowel loops or big vessels.”
Adding Cetuximab to Chemotherapy Enables Patients with Advanced Colorectal Cancer, Liver Metastasis to Undergo Surgery
8 April 2013
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer killer in the United States and two-thirds of those deaths are caused by tumor cells metastasizing to the liver. New results from a clinical trial in Shanghai, China show that adding cetuximab (Erbitux) to traditional chemotherapy for colorectal cancer patients, with otherwise inoperable liver metastases, allows those tumors to be removed surgically. The study also indicates that cetuximab combined with chemotherapy improves tumor shrinkage, even for patients with inoperable liver metastases, as opposed to chemotherapy alone. In this Phase III clinical trial, patients with Stage IV colorectal cancer that had spread only to the liver were randomly assigned to be given cetuximab and chemotherapy (Group A) or chemotherapy alone (Group B). “After treatment, 26% of patients became eligible for surgery to remove liver metastases in Group A compared to only 7% in Group B.”
Six Ways to Help Your Liver
5 April 2013
The Canadian Liver Foundation is sounding the alarm that liver cancer is not just a disease of alcohol abuse. A 10-year-old overweight child who is fed junk food his whole life can have a liver as damaged as that of a 60-year old alcoholic. Liver cancer is one of the few cancers on the rise because people don’t know about it. Many will carry and transmit hepatitis A, B and C without knowing it. The Foundation urges people to follow these steps to combat these preventable diseases that can lead to liver cancer: get your liver tested for functionality; get tested for Hepatitis A, B and C; watch your diet for sugar and fat; remove toxic cleaning products from your home; watch herbal drugs and medications that can damage your liver, particularly acetaminophen; and donate to the Canadian Liver Foundation.
Liver Cancer Treatments to Help Drive Sanofi China Sales
1 April 2013
Sanofi, France’s biggest drugmaker, has recently received approval for its cancer drug Eloxatin to be used against liver cancer in China. Half of the world’s deaths related to the organ occur in China, which is the first country to approve the drug to fight liver cancer.
Experimental Drug May Work Against Hepatitis C
27 March 2013
Miravirsen is a drug that suppresses molecules that the hepatitis C virus needs to reproduce and in a phase 2 study the drug decreased viral loads 500-fold at the highest dose. “This is the first real clinical study of this approach and the results are encouraging,” said Dr. Judy Lieberman, chairwoman of cellular and molecular medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital. “What’s exciting to me is that there doesn’t seem to be any drug resistance developing. If there’s a way to develop a drug cocktail that doesn’t require a half a year of treatment… that would be really exciting, but it’s too early to tell.” Experts agree and caution that only 36 patients have been treated in the phase 2 study and that most suffered a recurrence of the virus.
Ultrasound to Combat Liver Tumours
25 March 2013
Ultrasound doesn’t just record images from the body; it can fight cancer. Focused ultrasound heats cancer cells up to 60 degrees Celsius destroying them and leaving healthy tissue unharmed. This therapy has been approved for a small number of diseases, such as uterine tumors and prostate cancer, but researchers at the EU-funded FUSIMO Project want to apply the application/method to other organs that move during breathing, such as the liver. An ultrasound beam can miss the tumor with a moving organ so patients have been put under general anesthesia where the surgeon pauses the ventilator for a few seconds to fire the beam. This method has its own risks and loses the non-invasive nature of ultrasound so FUSIMO’s strategy is to use a computer to simulate the movement of a liver as closely as possible. The researchers will develop, implement and validate a model for moving abdominal organs for use with FUS and magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound surgery that would either be activated only when the tumor crosses the beam focus or by tracking the moving tumor so that it remains within the beam’s path.
Liver Cancer Diagnosis by NIR-SERS
25 March 2013
The typical ways to diagnosis of liver cancer, ultrasound or test for serum a-fetoprotein, have their disadvantages, but Chinese researchers have developed a simple and non-invasive alternative. Near-infrared surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (NIR-SERS) is used to detect oxyhemoglobin in liver cancer patients with a high degree of certainty and the test can be done in under a minute with a portable instrument.
Soybean Meal Peptides Could Stop Colon, Liver and Lung Cancer Growth
24 March 2013
In a study published in the journal Food Research International, University of Arkansas at Fayetteville scientists have discovered that peptides, the byproduct after oil is taken out of soybean seeds, can fight cancer. “Dose response showed that the peptides had significant inhibitory effect at higher concentrations… and gradually decreased with decreased dosage,” wrote the researchers of the study. Specifically, they found that peptides halted colon cancer growth by 73%, liver cancer growth by 70% and lung cancer growth by 68%.
Better Long-Term Outcomes With Low Hep C Viral Load
22 March 2013
Researchers at the University of Tokyo conducted a study involving 370 patients with HCV-related HCC and found that patients with a low viral load had a 23.7% higher five-year recurrence-free survival rate than those with a high HCV viral load and an 18.9% higher overall survival rate. In addition, patients with a high HCV-viral load had an 87% higher tumor recurrence rate than those with a low viral load. “In conclusion, a low viral load may predict lower recurrence and better survival in patients undergoing hepatic resection for HCV-related HCC irrespective of the serologic eradication of HCV,” wrote the authors.
Cellular Biomedicine Group Marks the Launch of China Clinical Trial for TC-DC Therapy for Hepatocellular Carcinoma
21 March 2013
Tumor Stem Cell Specific Dendritic Cell (TC-DC) therapy takes a sample of the patient’s own dendritic, or immune, cells and their tumor cells and puts them together in the lab. The dendritic cells will learn the characteristics of the tumor cells and be put back into the body where they can train the immune system to fight ant destroy liver cancer tumor stem cells, which cause tumors to return and metastasize. Already in progress, the clinical trial is a collaboration between Cellular Biomedicine Group, California Stem Cell (CSC), and Shanghai’s PLA 85 Hospital. This is the first immune cell clinical trial of its kind in China which has 45% of the world’s HCC patients and over 300,000 new patients diagnosed each year.
An Infection With Hepatitis C May Eventually Lead to Liver Cancer
15 March 2013
The virus incubates for up to 6 months with 80% of infected people showing no symptoms; those few that do have symptoms present with fatigue, nausea, joint pain, and jaundice. In sum, 85% of newly infected patients develop chronic hepatitis and 70% of chronically infected people develop chronic liver disease. Hepatitis C is the underlying cause of cancer in 25% of liver cancer patients. Worldwide, 150 million people have chronic hepatitis C infections and are at risk for developing liver cancer; at least 350,000 people die from hepatitis C-related disease every year. Anti-viral treatments known as protease inhibitors, or Direct Acting Anti-Virals, have been shown to help slow the progress of hepatitis C. Boceprevir and Telaprevir are two protease inhibitors that have shown success in treating HCV-infected patients when taken in combination with pegylated interferon alfa [PEG IFN] and ribavirin [RBV].
SBU Cancer Center Uses Breakthrough Procedure for Liver Cancer
7 March 2013
Stony Brook University Cancer Center is the only program in the region to use the minimally invasive Surefire Infusion System to fight liver cancer. A catheter is inserted into the organ through an artery and delivers therapeutic beads directly to the tumor while at the same time minimizing exposure to surrounding healthy tissue. The procedure can be used for about 75% of patients who need chemoembolization, can be used with conscious sedation or general anesthesia and usually has the patient out of the hospital within 24 hours.
Diabetes Mellitus Boosts Risk for Nonviral Liver Cancer
3 March 2013
A British Journal of Cancer study analyzed data from 63,257 middle-aged Chinese men and women between 1993 – 1998 and found a 114% increase in nonviral hepatocellular carcinoma during a 14-year follow-up. The researchers concluded that, “…further studies are warranted to elucidate the biological mechanism underpinning the role of diabetes in nonviral-related hepatocarcinogenesis.”
Stem Cell Line Could Also Advance Research into Liver Cancers, Cystic Fibrosis
1 March 2013
During chronic or acute liver failure, toxins build up in the body and the only alternative is a transplant, but that could all change with a new line of pig liver stem cells called PICM-19. Cells from this line naturally differentiate into hepatocytes, which perform most of the metabolic functions of the liver, as well as scrub toxins from blood. According to Neil Talbot, a Research Animal Scientist for the USDA Agricultural Research Service, PICM-19 cells could do the same thing inside an artificial liver, which could shorten the liver transplant list and save lives.
Progen Pharmaceuticals Locks In Cancer Drug License Deal with Medigen Biotechnology
1 March 2013
The licensing agreement is for the development and commercialization of drug PG545 for the prevention and treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma and other non-oncology indications around the world. Progen will retain rights for all other oncology indications for PG545.
Patients with HBV, Cirrhosis Treated with Entecavir Experienced Fewer Hepatic Events, Deaths
22 February 2013
Researchers studied outcomes of 1446 patients with chronic hepatitis B between December 2005 and June 2012, along with a subset of patients that also had cirrhosis. Analysis of entecavir treated patients with cirrhosis had a reduced risk of hepatocellular carcinoma versus the control group. “This was one of the first large-scale, real-life cohort studies demonstrating the efficacy of entecavir therapy in reducing various complications of chronic hepatitis B. Patients of more advanced liver disease [who] can achieve maintained viral suppression benefit most from this antiviral therapy,” concluded the researchers.
GenSpera Announces First Patient Treated in G-202 Phase II Hepatocellular Carcinoma Trial
21 February 2013
G-202 is a plant-derived cytotoxin (thapsigargin) that is released within the tumor and, unlike typical chemotherapeutic agents, kills both slow- and fast-growing cancers, as well as cancer stem cells. Data from the phase Ib program in solid tumor patients showed that it was well tolerated and slowed tumor growth in HCC patients who had previously progressed with sorafenib. “We are excited to begin the HCC trial, which constitutes another milestone in the G-202 clinical development plan,” said Craig Dionne, PhD, GenSpera CEO and President.
Modified Virus Triples Cancer Survival Time
11 February 2013
In a report from the New Scientist, 30 HCC patients received three doses of a modified smallpox virus, known as JX-594, injected directly into the liver over the course of a month. There was a low-dose and a high-dose group who had average survival times of 6.7 and 14.1 months, respectively with two patients from the high dose group still alive more than two years after the treatment. “Some tumors disappeared completely, and most showed partial destruction on MRI scans,” said David Kirn, head of the study at Jennerex. Destruction was equally significant to primary and secondary tumors, which could mean that simply injecting the virus into the bloodstream could be an effective treatment for hepatocellular carcinoma. A trial to test this treatment versus injecting the virus directly into the tumor is underway.
Hepatic Function Testing Can Assist in Treatment Planning for Liver Cancer Patients
8 February 2013
In a study at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 14 patients with unresectable intrahepatic cancers were treated with 3-D conformal radiation therapy (3-D CRT) and intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). The purpose of the study was to measure liver function prior to and during radiation therapy in order to better predict post-treatment liver response and to give the patients the highest dose that posed the lowest risk. “Through this assessment method, patients could potentially receive more treatment doses tailored to meet their needs, based on their liver function,” said Hesheng Wang, PhD., lead author of the study.
Arqule Begins Late-Stage Liver Cancer Trial, Earns $15M Milestone
31 January 2013
Positive results from a Phase 2 double-blind study of previously treated patients with inoperable HCC showed improved survival and overall time to progression when given tivantinib, otherwise known as ARQ-197. The company received the milestone payment from development partner Daiichi Sankyo Company, Ltd., for enrolling the first HCC patient in the Phase 3 trial of the drug. Over the course of the study, 300 patients will be enrolled at 120 centers globally.
Celsion Says Thermodox Fails to Meet Primary Endpoint in Liver Cancer Study
31 January 2013
Hepatocellular Carcinoma Study of RFA and Thermodox (HEAT), was a randomized, placebo-controlled study in 79 countries that treated 701 patients with unresectable HCC. The HEAT study was expected to show 33% progression free survival in patients but, after conferring with its Data Monitoring Committee, the company could not show evidence of clinical effectiveness that could be the basis for regulatory approval.
No Added Benefit for Chemo Beads in Liver Cancer
28 January 2013
Researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, City reported that hepatic arterial embolization (HAE) with doxorubicin-eluting beads (LC Bead) failed to improve outcomes for HCC patients versus beads without the drug. “Doxorubicin-loaded drug-eluting beads did not improve response rate, median time to progression, progression-free survival, or overall survival in this randomized trial,” said Karen Brown, MD at Sloan-Kettering. “This study brings into question the added benefit of chemotherapy for embolization of hepatocellular carcinoma,” she concluded.
Shorter Surveillance Intervals Detect HCC Earlier
28 January 2013
Researchers at Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea, followed 10,307 patients at high-risk for HCC due to hepatitis B or cirrhosis between 1990 and 2004. Patients were recommended to undergo HCC surveillance every 6 months or less, but some were screened at longer intervals. In short, 62.1% of the short-interval group had smaller mean HCC tumor size compared 51.5% of the long-interval group. In addition, the 5-year survival rate of the short-interval group was 31.4% compared to 23.3% in the long-interval group. “On the basis of this evidence, the optimal (ultrasound) surveillance interval might be 4 or 6 months to detect HCC of 2 cm or less for patients with chronic hepatitis and thrombocytopenia or those with cirrhosis,” concluded study author Sheng-Nan Lu at Chang Gung University, Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
Statins May Lower Death Risk in Liver Cancer
27 January 2013
Investigators at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston followed 644 patients with pathologically confirmed HCC for 10 years and found that those who used statins, in addition to local and systemic therapy or surgical resection, had a 30% reduction in mortality versus those who did not use statins. Overall survival remained high even after factoring for age, sex, race, staging, hepatitis B or C history, cirrhosis, treatment, alcohol use and diabetes. Young Kwang Chae, MD of the University of Texas said that,”…preclinical evidence supports antitumoral activity of statins,” and that the next step would be to determine subgroups, like cirrhosis versus non-cirrhosis patients, to determine where statins could be most effective.