We aim at improving health by identifying novel genomic predictors and oncogenic drivers of predictive tools and drivers of liver cancer that will, in the medium term, contribute to better allocation of resources and refinement of therapeutic strategies. In addition, with two small-medium enterprises in the team, the project will lead to the production of new, knowledge intensive products, creating sustainable employment and contributing to improving the world competitiveness of the European medical devices sector.
We will also help to throw new light on simple processes to link up all the stakeholders in the ‘triple helix’ of researchers and clinicians, business and regulators in the field of liver cancer which we expect will be transferrable to other medical fields.
The relevance of understanding the molecular biology of this cancer
Robust scientific evidence indicates that HCC is resistant to conventional chemotherapy, and thus, there is a clear need of novel primary systemic therapies for this difficult-to-treat neoplasm. Since molecular therapies could be pivotal in this setting, it is vital that we improve our understanding of the molecular determinants for HCC development and progression.
The technological revolution in oncological sciences has the potential to produce a step change advance in treatment of HCC
Novel high-throughput technologies, including the potential to unravel the complete nucleotide sequence of a cancer genome, have changed the way scientists approach human cancer and have only recently made a project like HEPTROMIC possible.
Preliminary steps in personalised management of HCC
Two major advancements could critically improve the outcome of patients with liver cancer: firstly, the identification of crucial molecular subclasses with different prognostic implications, and secondly, the identification of key genetic or epigenetic drivers of specific subclasses will enable development of more personalised treatment algorithms.
The epidemiological impact and lethality of liver cancer
Hepatocellular carcinoma is a major health problem due to its dismal survival rates. The incidence of the disease is increasing with more than 700,000 new cases per year worldwide, of which 50,000 occur in Europe. The main risk factors are chronic hepatitis (B and C) and alcohol abuse leading to cirrhosis, a true pre-neoplastic condition. One third of cirrhotic patients will develop liver cancer during their lifetime and most of them will die as a result of this complication.
The Heptromic objectives
Genomic characterization of poor prognosis subclass of hepatocellular carcinoma
To define the molecular subclass of poor prognosis in patients with early HCC through integrated analysis of mRNA, miRNA and methylome profiles. This will enable clinicians to significantly improve prognostic prediction and to optimise candidate selection for treatments.
Identify driver oncogenic events as potential treatment targets
To apply state-of-the-art genomic technologies including massive sequencing, kinase profiling and highly sophisticated animal models for pinpointing dominant oncogenic alterations. Ultimately, this will facilitate the development of more effective anti-cancer drugs.
Design of prognostic devices for clinical translation
To achieve effective and efficient clinical translation through the design of prognostic devices to significantly improve prognosis assessment and therapeutic decision-making.