Korea and U.S. Joint Research Team Establishes New Genomic Subtypes of Liver Cancer
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Korea and U.S. Joint Research Team Establishes New Genomic Subtypes of Liver Cancer



Research team from 5 universities in Korea, including Korea University, and MD Anderson Cancer Center in the U.S., announced new genomic subtypes of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The first co-authors of this study are Professor Sun-young Yim, Division of Hepatology at Korea University Anam Hospital, Sang-hee Kang, Division of Colorectal Surgery at Korea University Guro Hospital, and Sung-hwan Lee, Division Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Surgery at CHA Bundang Medical Center.


HCC has various clinical features, and treatment can vary from one patient to another. Therefore, it is crucial to accurately identify the features of each patient's cancer to determine most relevant treatment. Currently, various classifications of HCC are available, but none of them are easy to use in clinical settings.


Integrating 16 existing genomic signatures for HCC subtypes, the research team established a new classification system of five subtypes - STM, CIN, IMH, BCM, and DLP - based on mRNA expressions.


 Classification

  Type

 Features

 A

 STM(STeM)

 is characterized by high stem cell features, vascular invasion, and poor prognosis.

 B

 CIN(Chromosomal INstability)

  has moderate stem cell features but high genomic instability and low immune activity.

 C

 IMH(IMmune High)

 is characterized by high immune activity.

 D

 BCM(Beta-Catenin with high Male predominance)

 is characterized by prominent -catenin activation, low miRNA expression, hypomethylation, and high sensitivity to sorafenib.

 E

 DLP(Differentiated and Low Proliferation)

 is differentiated with high HNF4A activity.

  
The new subtypes indicate precise diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis features, so this new classification system is expected to make a significant contribution to the advancement of individually treatment. This study also provides a website where physicians can easily find the subtype of HCC simply by uploading the patient's genetic information on the website. (https://kasaha1.shinyapps.io/pics100)


The classification of the subtypes systematically divided patient groups into those with poor prognostic features based on stem cell characteristics and those with a high-level of immune activity who are more likely to respond to immunotherapy. This is expected to help provide customized treatment for each HCC patient.


Professor Sun-young Yim from Korea University Anam Hospital said, "Many universities and research institutes participated in this large-scale study and we will continue to define markers that may predict treatment response in liver cancer patients." 


Professor Kang from the Division of Colorectal Surgery at Korea University Guro Hospital said, "There are increasing number of treatment options and I hope that this system can help physicians to provide individualized treatment."


The study was published in the March 2022 online edition of Hepatology. Professors Kang, Yim, and Lee were listed in the biographical dictionary called 'Hanbitsa' in which researchers who have conducted influential research are listed.


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