Timeframe: 2010 – 2011
Goal: Build understanding of the immunology and cell biology of FLC using mouse models of cancer
Principal Investigator: Sandy Simon, PhD
Study background: This early study was designed to determine if researchers could take advantage of the immune system to identify potential ways to detect and eventually treat fibrolamellar.
The immune system is constantly screening bodies for transformed cells. Usually it recognizes these cells as foreign and triggers a programmed pathway of cell death called apoptosis. However, even though the immune system still can recognize tumor cells, mutations in tumor cells could disable the cell death pathway, so the immune system loses the ability to kill the tumor cell.
The study team’s hypothesis was that this mechanism could potentially be leveraged in two ways:
- To use the immune system, and in particular antibodies, to detect micrometastases in the body
- To use the antibodies to deliver toxins directly to the tumors, instead of using general systemic chemotherapy approaches.
Results: During the initial effort, the team completed testing on:
- A genetically induced mouse model for hepatocellular carcinoma
- A chemically induced mouse model for hepatocellular carcinoma
- A genetically induced mouse model for prostate cancer.
- Four human patients samples of fibrolamellar heptocellular carcinoma.
The work was continued with a follow-on grant.