Goal: Identify biomarkers for FLC
Principal Investigator: Michael Torbenson, MD (Currently at Mayo Clinic)
Study overview: Early identification of tumors is essential for aggressive treatment. The majority of fibrolamellar carcinoma (FLC) patients have metastatic disease at the time of diagnosis. Therefore, identification of biomarkers for FLC is essential. Using a broad collection of FLC pathology specimens, the study planned to identify diagnostic biomarkers for FLC. In addition, they investigated whether these biomarkers are linked to any genetic mutations or microRNA expression profiles unique to FLC.
Results: As a potential aide in diagnosis, the study team investigated the staining properties of CD68, a transmembrane glycoprotein present on lysosomes and endosomes (organelles that are involved in the transport of materials within cells). Cells like macrophages which are rich in lysosomes/endosomes are CD68 positive. The study team performed an analysis of CD68 within FLC and HCC samples. In all, the team analyzed 23 primary FLC and nine metastatic FLC from 24 individuals. Sixty-six tumor samples from HCC patient were analyzed as well. CD68 positivity was strongly associated with fibrolamellar carcinomas as compared to HCC.
The details of the study were published in Modern Pathology in March 2011. The full text of the article can be read here.
Implications: This study identified a biomarker, CD68, that is present on FLC samples and can be used in routine diagnostic surgical pathology. In addition, it may be of use in research studies by helping properly classify cases of fibrolamellar carcinoma. This is of importance because it can help ensure a uniform biological entity is being investigated across research groups.
Note: This study was one of four “Freedom of Pursuit” unrestricted research awards to be distributed under the joint FCF/ICARE program active in 2010/2011.