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Researchers from the Ohio State University Medical Center discovered that as liver cells become cancerous, they are no longer able to produce and release glucose due to over-expression of a genetic molecule. These findings may lead to new treatments for individuals who, through use of a liver panel, find out they have cancer.
In the U.S., more than 28,000 individuals will be newly diagnosed with liver and intrahepatic bile duct cancer in 2012, as projected by the National Cancer Institute. Another approximately 20,600 will die.
To gain a better understanding of this disease, a team of scientists investigated mouse models of liver cancer. They discovered that in cells that had become cancerous, a molecule known as microRNA-23a (miR23a) hampered the ability to produce glucose. This process created metabolic changes that favored the growth of cancer cells.
"This study identifies an important mechanism that severely blocks glucose production and its release from the liver as liver cells transform into cancer cells," said principal investigator Samson Jacob. "It is conceivable that delivery of an anti-miR23a to the tumor site could reverse this."
As scientists try to develop better treatments for this malignancy, individuals who are concerned about their health may consider undergoing a liver panel test to assess the organ's function.
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