Researchers report the first comprehensive genomic study of bile duct cancer
Discovery of new gene mutations implicated in cholangiocarcinoma development
- Date : 21 May 2012
- Topic : Gastrointestinal cancers
A team of international scientists has made a significant step in understanding the cause of bile duct cancer. By identifying several new genes frequently mutated in bile duct cancers, researchers are paving the way for better understanding of how bile duct cancers develop. Their discovery is published online inNature Genetics.
Bile duct cancer, or cholangiocarcinoma, is a fatal cancer with a poor prognosis. Accounting for 10 to 25% of all primary liver cancers worldwide, bile duct cancer is a prevalent disease in Southeast Asia, particularly in Northeast Thailand. The high incidence in Thailand is attributed to long-term consumption of raw fish infected with parasites. Once eaten, the parasites accumulate in the bile ducts of the human host, causing constant infection and eventually the onset of cancer.
DNA sequencing of bile duct cancers and normal tissues
The research team was led by Dr Bin Tean Teh, Director and Principal Investigator of the NCCS-VARI Translational Cancer Research Laboratory. Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) and the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) established the NCCS-VARI Translational Research Program at the National Cancer Centre, Singapore in 2007. The program focuses on the biology behind varying drug responses in Asian versus non-Asian patients with specific types of cancer.
The finding came after two years of intensive research, which saw scientists from Singapore visiting the villagers in northern Thailand, and Thai researchers coming to Singapore to work in laboratories.
The study will pave the way for a better understanding of the roles that newly identified genes play in the development of bile duct cancer. It is now needed to further examine their biological aspects to determine how they bring about the onset of cholangiocarcinoma.
Using state of the art DNA sequencing, the researchers analysed eight bile duct cancers and normal tissues from Thai patients, and discovered mutations in 187 genes. The team then selected 15 genes that were frequently mutated for further analysis in an additional 46 cases. For many of these genes, such as MLL3, ROBO2 and GNAS, have not been previously known that are implicated in bile duct cancers.
Knowing much more about the molecular mechanisms of the disease
The researchers also compared the bile duct cancers to other related cancers of the liver and pancreas. Surprisingly, they found that the cholangiocarcinoma and pancreatic duct adenocarcinoma share more molecular similarities than earlier studies had indicated. This suggests that there are common biological pathways between the two cancers. By studying these pathways, the scientists can then shed more light on how these tumours develop.
The researchers believe this is only a first step and hope for even more collaborations in time to come between two countries in the field of scientific research.
The research was funded by the Singapore Ministry of Health's National Medical Research Council, Millennium Foundation, Lee Foundation, National Cancer Centre Research Fund, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore, Cancer Science Institute Singapore, Research Team Strengthening Grant, National Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Centre and the National Science and Technology Development Agency (Thailand).
Thank you for rating!
You have already rated this page, you can only rate it once!