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NCKU professor discover drug to inhibit liver cancer

Tainan, Taiwan, May 14, 2014

National Cheng Kung University (NCKU), Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Distinguished Professor Dr. Hsiao-Sheng Liu and his research team have discovered that the anti-arrhythmic drug Amiodarone can inhibit tumorigenesis of liver cancer through autophagy.

Their findings have been published in February issue of Hepatology, 2014.

This new medical discovery has opened up a brand new chapter in explaining the mechanism of Hepatitis B virus-related hepatocellular carcinogenesis while providing an anti-liver cancer clinical drug with great potential.

Current drugs for treating liver cancer are expensive and ineffective compared to Amiodarone as an off-label use agent which is relatively much cheaper with less toxicity, according to Dr. Liu.

Amiodarone is promising for treating liver cancer which undoubtedly is a piece of great news to liver cancer patients.

This new medical discovery was made by Dr. Liu’s research team consisting of Dr. Sheng-Huei Lan and Dr. Shan-Ying Wu alongside NCKU Hospital Division of Gastroenterology Professor, Dr. Xi-Zhang Lin, National Institute of Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, Director Dr. Ih-Jen Su and Industrial Technology Research Institute Researchers, Dr. Cheng-Tao Wu and Yen-Ju Lin.

According to Dr. Liu, both of autophagy and microRNA (miRNA) play important roles in the formation of diverse cancers.

He said, in the cell autophagic activity can be induced by various stresses including cancers to form a unique double-membrane vesicle, known as autophagosome which possesses the ability to identify, degrade and recycle unnecessary materials including invading pathogens, thus maintaining homeostasis and providing the energy source for cell survival.

On the other hand, miRNAs are small RNA molecules with 22 nucleotides in length and its widely known function is to serve as an anti-sense RNA to target messenger RNAs and down-regulate gene expression.

At present, many literatures have found low autophagy and over-expression of miR-224 in patients with liver cancer.

Besides, transgenic mice with defective autophagic activity experience the formation of tumor specifically in their livers.

Due to these reports, Dr. Liu and his research team focused their research efforts on investigating the causal relationship between autophagy activity and miR-224 expression during the formation of liver cancer. They found that autophagy can regulate miR-224 expression in their cell line model. This relationship was further confirmed based on the findings made on 46 Taiwanese HBV infection-related liver cancer patients.

They also utilized the hepatitis-B virus X gene transgenic mice and further verified the occurrence of damage of autophagy and over-expression of miRNA-224 during the formation of liver cancer.

It is noteworthy to mention that Dr. Liu has invented a novel experimental method by integrating autophagosome organelle separation technology, miRNA hybridization and immunogold labeling of microRNA technology, which proved that autophagosome can selectively recruit miRNA-224.

While investigating liver cancer model in animals, Dr. Liu has also revealed that Amiodarone is a promising off-label use drug capable of effectively inhibiting liver tumor formation.
Provider: NCKU NEWS
Date: 20140514
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