Prevalence and mortality rates of Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) in Canada are rising faster than any other form of cancer. The majority of cases arise in a cirrhotic liver caused by persistent damage; however, 20% of all HCC cases occur in the absence of cirrhosis by a poorly defined mechanism 2. Non-cirrhotic HCC is typically diagnosed at late stage and prognosis is poor due to limited treatment options and the central role that the liver plays in basic human physiology including detoxification and metabolism. This project hinges on an unexpected discovery in our lab that elevated levels of the atypical cell cycle protein Spy1 (gene SPDYA) promotes the development of non-cirrhotic HCC.
We will leverage our expertise in cell cycle regulation to further dissect how this unique family of proteins contributes to liver homeostasis and the path to disease. Ultimately this work may provide a much needed and effective therapeutic direction for patients with HCC.
Members of this research team presented their research project regarding cyclin-like proteins in fatty liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma at the WE-SPARK Cheers to Hope event. This event took place in May of 2023.