New breakthrough in liver cancer treatment

THE growth of liver cancer can possibly be halted or even reversed, a new study has found.

Scientists from the University of Adelaide have discovered that cancer-related inflammation of the liver can be stopped by drugs, helping halt the spread of the disease.

“Chronic inflammation drives many cancers, and liver cancer especially, but until now we haven’t completely understood the mechanisms by which this has been happening,” the university’s Professor Alastair Burt said.

The study, using mice, has found a strong link between cancer, inflammation and the body’s ability to fight cancer.

“We’ve now found that inflammation in a diseased liver actively prevents what we call immunosurveillance, the adaptive immune response which is part of the body’s frontline defence system against cancer,” Prof Burt said.

But by targeting inflammation of the liver, researchers believe they can help the body fight the spread of cancer.

“This wouldn’t occur if it were not for the chronic inflammation of the liver,” Prof Burt said.

The scientist said the class of drugs trialled, called anti-PD-1, was a bright spot in the fight against liver cancer.

“We can expect to see more about this class of drugs in the near future, as they have recently been approved for the treatment of advanced liver cancer,” he said

The research includes input from the University of California San Diego, University of Adelaide and a team of international researchers, and will be published on Thursday in the journal Nature.