[ASC-media] Media release: proteomics tackles liver cancer

Science & Arts Media jca-media at starclass.com.au
Sun Nov 2 20:21:21 EST 2003


November 3, 2003


Proteomic technology is opening new ways to detect and treat one of the world's most common liver cancers  - hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) - which affects more than half a million people every year.

The present status and future prospects orf proteomics in hepatocellular carcinoma research will be described today at an international scientific symposium, the Sir Mark Oliphant Conference on "Proteomics: Progress, Partnerships and Possibilities" which is taking place at the University of Sydney School of Veterinary Science Conference Centre (November 3-5).

Professor Maxey Chung is the head of the DNA and Peptide Technology/Proteomics laboratory at the National University of Singapore. His team is using proteomic technology to identify biomarkers for the early detection of HCC.

"For most patients who suffer from HCC, long-term survival is rare.  They usually die within a year after diagnosis." Prof. Chung says

HCC represents more than 5 per cent of all cancers round the world, affecting more than half a million people in 2000, especially in developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa, China and the Far East. The major cause of HCC world wide is persistent infection by the hepatitis B or C viruses.

"While primary preventive measures such as vaccination against the hepatitis B virus can prevent the onset of HCC, we are still faced with the problem of how best to detect this malignant disease early for those who have been infected with the virus or are at risk of developing the disease," Prof. Chung says.

"Although tumours of 1 cm in size may be detected by improved imaging technology, it is also essential to develop a molecular diagnosis of HCC by establishing a molecular profile of the preneoplastic and carcinoma-in-situ lesions," says Prof. Chung

Proteomic technology offers a highly promising approach, he says. By analysing the proteome  - or protein profile - of HCC, it may be possible to identify novel diagnostic biomarkers for the early detection of HCC, and specific proteins associated with the cancer as potential targets for treatment. 

Proteomics - first described in Australia in the mid-1990s - is the science of separating, identifying and characterising proteins, the main messenger molecules of life itself. This is a key step in understanding and treating many diseases hitherto regarded as difficult or impossible to treat.
The Sir Mark Oliphant Conferences - International Frontiers of Science and Technology - are sponsored by the Commonwealth Department of Education, Science and Training to commemorate the centenary of the birth of Sir Mark Oliphant, a Foundation Fellow of both the Australian Academy of Science (AAS) and the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) who run the series. 

For further information:

Media seeking to interview Professor Chung or other speakers at the conference are asked to contact Dr Kevin Downard, on 02 9351 6270 or 4140.

or Sydney University Media Office, 02 9351 2261.

Details of the Sir Mark Oliphant Conference on Proteomics:

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