TGen links AKR1B10 gene to the most common liver cancer
If the answer is hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the question might be: name the most common form of liver cancer today? A malignancy whose incidence has nearly doubled over the past decade, HCC is the fastest growing type of cancer in the U.S., and the third-leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide.
A review article by TGen researchers in the journal Cancers provides the first summary of the experimental evidence supporting the AKR1B10 enzyme as a promising therapeutic target for HCC, based on a review of more than 50 studies published since this gene was first identified and characterized in 1998.
“While the association between this gene and HCC is well recognized, in this review we see AKR1B10 emerging as not only a therapeutic target for this type of liver cancer, but also having potential use in early diagnosis of this deadly disease,” said Dr. Johanna DiStefano, head of the Diabetes and Fibrotic Disease Unit at TGen.
Like many types of digestive cancers, HCC exhibits few early symptoms. Diagnosis often occurs in the late stages, when fewer treatment options exist and the chances of patient survival dim. People with diabetes have an increased risk of developing HCC.
In the U.S., the number of liver cancer diagnoses has nearly doubled since 2009 to an estimated 42,000 annually. Men are almost twice as likely to contract this disease as women.
This year, nearly 32,000 patients will die of liver cancer, making it the fifth leading cause of cancer related death in the U.S., according to the review paper: Diagnostic and Prognostic Potential of AKR1B10 in Human Hepatocellular Carcinoma.