Programme(s) to which this project applies:
|☑ MPhil/PhD||☒ MRes[Med]||☒ URIS|
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a primary malignancy of liver and develops preponderantly in individuals with underlying chronic liver disease. HCC is an aggressive tumour with local invasion and extrahepatic metastasis as signatures in the advanced stage. Patients with an advanced HCC stage are precluded from curative treatment and are limited to only palliative therapy. This stresses the clinical importance in the identification of sensitive and specific biomarkers for early detection of HCC and ascertaining the underlying basis of cancer metastasis of HCC. Our team focuses on the study of liver cancer, particularly the process of metastasis. Using multidisciplinary approaches, we endeavoured to understand the mechanistic basis of HCC metastasis with translational impact leading to improved health, well-being and quality of life for cancer patients.
Metastasis to specific organs is not a random process but results from the interplay between intrinsic properties of cancer cells and microenvironment of the distant organ. Extracellular vesicle (EV) shedding from tumour cells has emerged as an important channel for cell-cell communication in influencing the local tumour microenvironment and facilitating pre-metastatic niche formation in distant organ sites. They contain distinct components which depend on the cell type from which they are released and can subsequently be transferred to the recipient cells. EV content is regarded as a fingerprint of the releasing cells; it provides insightful information about the origin and functions of releasing cells. Circulating EV of cancer patients may therefore serve as promising biomarker for early detection and prognosis. We are interested to understand the molecular basis of EV-driven HCC metastasis by dissecting the functional role and signalling cascades of EV content. In clinical perspective, our work aims to identify promising EV content for the early diagnosis and novel therapeutic interventions for cancer patients.
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