Singapore led trials group to unveil novel data on genomic makeup and recommendations in treating and managing liver cancer on upcoming scientific forum

Singapore, 29 May 2015 – The Asia-Pacific Hepatocellular Carcinoma (AHCC) Trials Group has played an active part in their promise to deliver better outcomes to patients through new and exciting treatments for liver cancer in clinical trials. The two major highlights of the second AHCC Scientific Forum; 1) a novel and more efficient approach to develop better targeted therapies for liver cancer, 2) recommendations by a panel of world class experts in liver cancer on treatment using Yttrium 90 Selective Internal Radiation Therapy (SIRT), continues to drive the forefront in managing and treating liver cancer.

The AHCC trials group is a partnership between National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS), Singapore Clinical Research Institute (SCRI) and more than 35 major medical centers in the Asia-Pacific across 17 countries. The group has an excellent track record of conducting liver cancer clinical trials in Asia and is currently running its sixth multi-centre clinical trial within the collaborative partnership platform. 

About one million new cases worldwide annually with more than 70 percent in Asia, liver cancer is the fourth most common cancer among males and the third most fatal cancer in Singapore.

One of the major highlights of the scientific forum is the new findings from a collaborative study between NCCS and Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) which adopts a novel approach to investigating how genes in liver cancer may differ from one patient to another.

The study uses the latest technologies in gene sequencing, and shows that in addition to genetic differences between individuals, liver cancer carries very high genetic differences between cancer cells within the same tumor. This high intra-tumoral heterogeneity explains the low efficacy of current targeted drugs in many cancers.

Professor Pierce Chow, Protocol Chair AHCC, Senior Consultant Surgeon NCCS and also the Principal Investigator of the study said, “Most drug development programs only consider the presence/absence of a driver alteration without determining if these are important genetic drivers of the cancer or just passengers in the mutation.”

Between 2002 and 2012, the 71 anti-cancer drugs approved by FDA (including 52 molecular targeted drugs) increased median Overall Survival by just 2.1 months. 

Dr Zhai Wei Wei, Senior Research Scientist GIS and a key Co-investigator added, “Targeting clonally dominant, truncal drivers on the phylogenetic tree provides a more effective drug development strategy than considering actionable alterations as present or absent.” 

The AHCC Trials Group is planning a bigger and more definitive longitudinal study among members in the group. The prospective study will leverage on the expertise at the multiple and ethnically different sites within the AHCC Trials Group and could possibly improve the prognosis for patients with liver cancer.

Associate Professor Teoh Yee Leong, Public Health Physician and CEO of Singapore Clinical Research Institute said, “Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) is one of the top ten most common cancer in Asia, mainly because of the endemic status of chronic hepatitis B and C viruses, which leads to liver cirrhosis and an increased risk of HCC. We need to have more research into the treatment of HCC to improve survival of patients.”

The second major highlight is the inaugural presentation of the latest recommendations by world class liver cancer experts for administering Y90 SIRT, generally in liver cancer patients who cannot be treated surgically.

The panel of experts met in Singapore on Monday 25 May 2015 under the auspices of the Singapore Clinical Research Institute and reviewed the latest scientific data on the clinical use of Y90 SIRT for liver cancer. A set of consensus practice guidelines were formulated and Dr Kieron Lim, Head of the Division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology at National University Hospital (NUH), presented the practice guidelines. 

Dr Lim said, “It was a pleasure to be able to discuss this highly efficacious emerging therapy with a multi-disciplinary group of international experts. The guidelines conceptualises current applications and will be very useful to clinicians looking after patients with liver cancer.”

The expert panel comprises surgeons, hepatologists, medical oncologist, interventional radiologists and nuclear medicine physicians and was chaired by Professor Joseph Lau, an eminent clinician-scientist from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and a world-class expert on liver cancer.

 “AHCC Trials Group secures the access to an experienced network of investigators with a demonstrated track record of success in the field of liver cancer research, provides opportunities for face-to-face meetings with key opinion leaders in this field and getting new therapeutic area updates.

“These major highlights, together with the rest of the presentations by worldwide reputable doctors will deepen our understanding towards the treatment and management of liver cancer”, said Prof Pierce Chow.

Click here to view the media release.

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