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Androgen receptor may explain male dominance in liver cancer
Date:5/19/2010

in the journal Nature Medicine. The drug is a synthetic compound loosely based on the compounds found in curcumin, the polyphenol that gives the spice tumeric its yellow color. It has been used for centuries as a folk medicine in Asia and India. In this case, however, scientists significantly altered the natural substance to be more powerful, and are carefully screening it for safety and effectiveness.

AndroScience Corp., a biotech company founded by Chang and others in 2000, is evaluating ASC-J9 in several clinical settings, although not yet in the treatment of liver cancer, Chang said. The URMC owns a stake in AndroScience, and has licensed several of Chang's research findings.

In the current study, researchers found that AR cooperates with the hepatitis B virus to trigger the expression of several oncogenes, resulting in normal liver cells transforming into cancer cells. Furthermore, they showed that liver tumors without the AR had fewer proliferating cancer cells, which helps to explain the gender disparity in the disease.

Some of the findings are in agreement with earlier studies by Chang's lab on the role of AR in prostate cancer. Just as in prostate cancer, the liver tumor microenvironment is rich in various cell types, each of which has a distinct role in promoting the cancer.

"It will be interesting to see if targeting AR at different stages or in different liver cancer cell types may also lead to differential effects during the progression of cancer," the paper concluded.

The hepatitis B and C viruses account for approximately 80 percent of primary liver cancer cases worldwide. Newborn vaccines and screenings for HBV and HCV, particularly in Asian and African countries, have reduced the incidence of liver cancer in later years. Still, an estimated 560,000 new cases are diagnosed annually. In high-risk areas such as China, Japan and sub-Saharan Africa the male-to-female ratio of liver cancer can be as high a
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Contact: Leslie Orr
Leslie_Orr@urmc.rochester.edu
585-275-5774
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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