Liver cancer is quite rare in children and teens, accounting for only 1% to 2% of pediatric cancers. Even so, it affects around two to three million minors, usually in the first three years of their lives. For the past couple of decades, experts have classified pediatric liver cancers as either hepatocellular or hepatoblastoma carcinomas, with statistics showing that the survival rate for hepatoblastoma after five years is 75% to 80%.
Pediatric pathologists have now revealed that there are certain liver cancers whose characteristics do not meet the criteria of the two established carcinoma models. These liver tumors are more deadly in comparison to hepatoblastoma and hepatocellular carcinomas because they are unresponsive to chemotherapy as easily, resulting in poorer outcomes for patients.
A recent study was led by Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Center Dr. Pavel Sumazin, from Texas Children’s Cancer and Hematology Center, who is also a Baylor College of Medicine associate professor of pediatrics. The study looked into different types of liver cancer to try and understand more about this deadly pediatric cancer subtype.
After examining the genetic makeup and gene expression of molecular profiles from the newly discovered cancer, the researchers discovered that the liver tumor’s molecular profiles did not match the criteria of either hepatoblastoma or hepatocellular (HCC) carcinomas. However, the tumors had some molecular characteristics that were similar to those seen in both hepatocellular and hepatoblastoma carcinomas. The researchers classified these tumors as hepatoblastomas, which had features of hepatocellular carcinomas.
After examining treatments and outcomes for these tumors, the researchers discovered that they were still resistant to traditional chemotherapy. Additionally, the team also found that HBCs tend to have poorer outcomes when treatment didn’t involve aggressive surgical approaches, such as transplantation.
The research team proposed the development of a diagnostic algorithm to aid in the diagnosis and specialized treatment of hepatocellular carcinomas.
Dr. Dolores López-Terrada, coauthor of the study and chief of the division of professor of immunology, pathology, and pediatrics at Baylor, stated that the team’s findings underscore the need for molecular testing to improve tumor classification and provide optimized treatments. López-Terrada, who is also chief of the genomic medicine division at Texas Children’s Cancer Center, added that the team’s findings indicated that children with hepatoblastomas that had features of hepatocellular carcinoma stood to benefit from treatment programs with different guidelines compared to treatment programs for children with hepatocellular and hepatoblastoma carcinomas.
The study, whose findings were reported in the “Journal of Hepatology,” was funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, the National Cancer Institute and the Schindler Foundation.
Other companies, including QSAM Biosciences Inc. (OTCQB: QSAM), are also conducting research and development with the aim of finding superior treatments targeting different cancers that affect pediatric patients as well as adults.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to QSAM Biosciences Inc. (OTCQB: QSAM) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/QSAM
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