Improving care for liver cancer patients

05/07/2021

Researchers from the Centenary Institute and the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH) are co-investigators on three separate liver cancer focused projects that have recently received funding from the Australian Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) and the Cancer Institute NSW.

All projects aim to improve outcomes for patients with liver cancer, the fastest growing cancer in Australia and the world.

The two MRFF funded projects are:

Microbial based biomarkers powered by artificial intelligence for early detection of liver cancer in Australia. The Australian Liver Cancer Microbiome Consortium, $4 million. Lead institution,  University of New South Wales. Chief Investigator: Associate Professor Amany Zekry.

The IC3 Trial: Identifying Cirrhosis and Liver Cancer in Primary Care, $3.2 million. Lead institution, University of Western Australia. Chief Investigator: Professor Leon Adams.

The Cancer Institute NSW funded project is:

The APRICA program: Accelerated translational research in PRImary Liver Cancer, $4 million. Lead institution, University of Sydney. Chief Investigator: Professor Jacob George.

Professor Geoff McCaughan (pictured), Head of the Liver injury and Cancer Program at the Centenary Institute and Director of the AW Morrow Gastroenterology and Liver Centre at RPAH, is affiliated with all three projects. He was pleased to see the National and NSW Governments supporting research in such a critical health area.

“Close to 3,000 people in Australia will be diagnosed with liver cancer this year with the long-term prospects for many of these patients being quite poor. The unfortunate reality is that the five year survival rate for liver cancer is less than 20%. It’s very encouraging that both Governments have responded so positively to addressing research in liver disease, an area which has been in need of increased funding for many years.”

Professor McCaughan said the two MRFF projects, although distinct, were complementary in purpose and outlook. Both would explore new methods to detect potential liver cancer in patients at risk for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) at an earlier stage – and ahead of existing screening processes. 

“Early detection of cirrhosis, often a prelude to liver cancer, as well as the early detection of liver cancer itself, allows for earlier curative treatments which results in improved outcomes for patients,” said Professor McCaughan.

Professor McCaughan also noted the benefits that the APRICA program of research would deliver.

“This grant will enable best clinical care across NSW including regional communities for patients with HCC. This includes maximising prevention through to new therapies and palliative care, as well as preliminary research on the liver immune response, the microbiome and disease.”

Announcements relating to these projects can be found on the Australian Government’s Department of Health website and the website of the Cancer Institute NSW.

[ENDS]

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