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New DNA Methylation Biomarkers for Predicting Recurrence in Early-Stage Hepatocellular Carcinoma

June 09, 2017

In recent years, owing to improved surveillance and imaging technologies, diagnoses of patients with early-stage HCC (E-HCC) have increased substantially. Patients with E-HCC have a relatively favorable prognosis. However, one half of patients with E-HCC will still develop recurrence after resection. Traditional prognostic factors are not helpful in predicting which patients with E-HCC will develop recurrence.

In order to solve this problem, a research team, led by Prof. Yunfei Yuan, Prof. Binkui Li of Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center, together with the First Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou Medical University Cancer Center, and the First Affiliated Hospital of Anhui Medical University, firstly discovered that abnormal DNA methylation of three CpGs (corresponding to SCAND 3, SGIP1 and PI3) is closely associated with tumor recurrence of E-HCC. On the basis of the three CpGs, a methylation signature for E-HCC (MSEH) was developed to classify patients into high- and low-risk recurrence groups. As a result, 68% patients with high-risk recurrence could be identified in advance. The findings of the study were validated in independent populations from different areas of China and the TCGA data from United States.

The research findings have clinical implications for individualized follow-ups and therapeutic strategies for patients with E-HCC. Using MSEH, low-risk patients can be spared the toxic adverse effects of adjuvant treatment and excessive examinations. Conversely, high-risk patients would receive active surveillance and intensified regimens to prevent tumor recurrences. Thus, it is of great importance for improving patient’s survival, lowering medical expenses, and better optimizing medical resources.

The research was funded by the Sun Yat-sen University Translational Medicine 985 Project, and the Guangdong Department of Science and Technology Translational Medicine Center. It is a great achievement in translational research for SYSUCC and SYSU as it generates complete and independent intellectual property rights in the research field of liver cancer in China. It is also a milestone for SYSUCC, SYSU and the Guangdong Department of Science and Technology Translational Medicine Center, in carrying out internationally recognized research for translational medicine.

Prof. Binkui Li (left center), Prof. Yunfei Yuan (right center) and colleagues

Link to the research
CpG Methylation Signature Predicts Recurrence in Early-Stage Hepatocellular Carcinoma: Results From a Multicenter Study.

Source: Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center
Written by: Binkui Li, Huiwen Zhai

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