Current treatment options for liver cancer patients are extremely limited and recurrence of cancer post treatment is common. Often at the root of the problem is a specialized population of cells known as cancer stem cells (CSCs). These cells are responsible for the initiation of the tumour and have demonstrated resistance to radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Given the vital role CSCs play in maintaining the tumour, CSC-focused therapy seems destined to be the core of effective anticancer approaches.
Despite the importance of CSCs in liver cancer, very little is known about how these cells become resistant to drug therapies. Our Liver Cancer Unit seeks to change this.
- Determine what makes cancer stem cells resistant to current therapies. From this, we can target the determinants of CSCs so as to re-sensitise them to drug treatment.
- Examine the effect of embryonic microenvironment to make CSCs less aggressive.
This project will take an estimated 5 to 10 years to achieve the expected outcomes, with separate milestones set every two to three years.