Researchers have found that a unique pattern of activity for genes in cells located in the tissue surrounding a liver tumor can accurately predict whether the cancer will spread to other parts of the liver or to other parts of the body. This preliminary research was led by a team of researchers, including several from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other institutes.
Researchers analyzed gene expression signatures — patterns of gene activity — largely in immune cells within the liver microenvironment, which is the area immediately surrounding the tumor. The set of 17 genes included those that encode the messages for cytokines, which are small proteins produced by immune cells that are used to communicate messages between cells in the immune system to either turn up or down the immune response.
From the 17-gene set, researchers identified a unique pattern in the immune cells found in normal tissue of the liver microenvironment that could predict the potential for liver tumor metastasis. This metastasis-specific profile included gene activities responsible for increased production of certain cytokines that are associated with an anti-inflammatory response, as well as suppression of immune response. Increased levels of these cytokines are associated with a poor prognosis of cancer. The findings are reported in the August 2006 issue of Cancer Cell.
Message posted by: Rashmi Nemade
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