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Thursday January 31st, 2013

A research funded by the AECC identifies two molecular types of cholangiocarcinoma, the most aggressive liver cancer

A research, funded with 1.2 million euros by the Spanish Association Against Cancer (AECC) Barcelona – Scientific Foundation, has established the molecular classification (genetic mechanism) of intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC). This means an important advance in the search for an effective drug treatment. Today the only available treatment is surgery, and it is applicable only in the early stages of this disease. This cancer is resistant to any therapy and the second most frequent liver tumor. The investigation is led by Dr. Josep María Llovet, President of the International Liver Cancer Association (ILCA) and ICREA research professor at IDIBAPS, where he develops and coordinates most of the study, which has the support of two major international centers for treating liver cancer: Mount Sinai in New York and the National Cancer Institute in Milan.

The research has established a molecular classification for ICC that has resulted in the identification of two subclasses, one more aggressive than the other and with different characteristics. This work, unique in Spain and pioneering worldwide, has analyzed tumor tissue from 150 patients and studied the genetic alterations related this cancer so unknown from a molecular perspective.

The results obtained in the first part of the research offer information about the different biological behavior of the tumor. Based on this discovery, researchers will continue to study the cancer sensitivity to different drugs and will design a personalized therapy directed at each specific molecular alterations. The results will offer information about risk factors and genetic predisposition. This second part of the research will last approximately four more years.

The AECC Barcelona, through its Scientific Foundation, funded with € 1,200,000 this research, for a period of five years (2011 to 2016). The funding, one of the largest from a private donor in Spain, is fruit of the association’s commitment to encourage stability and excellence in cancer research in Spain. Juli de Miguel, President of the Cancer AECC Catalonia Barcelona, and Àngela Sánchez Martorell, manager of AEEC – Catalunya against cancer Barcelona, took part in a presentation of the results and argued that the role of the institution they represent is also directed to support research and knowledge in orphan cancers where it is particularly necessary to identify therapeutic targets.

The ICC is a cancer with a very poor prognosis and few treatment options, which incidence has increased in a 10% per year in the last decade. In Spain up to 400 – 500 cases are diagnosed every year. Of those, only about 30-40% will be selected to receive a surgical treatment. The 5-year survival is between 20 and 40%.

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