Researchers have found a gene they say can help identify patients facing aggressive liver cancer, and may prove key to their future treatment.
Some patients with hepatocellular carcinoma - the most common form of liver cancer - appear to have overactivity of a gene that is most often linked to embryonic stem cells and early human development, according to the study, published June 13 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Those patients had a worse prognosis than other patients with hepatocellular carcinoma, wrote the lead authors from the National University of Singapore. Further, blocking the gene - called SALL4 - appeared to help stop the cancer's spread, the researchers said.
"Now you can use SALL4 as a biomarker," he said. "If you find patients who overexpress this gene, you can focus treatment on them."