SINGAPORE, March 16 (Xinhua) -- The Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) and National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) have successfully characterized the genetic diversity of individual liver cancers, said the agencies in a joint press statement on Thursday.
Using next-generation DNA sequencing technology to study 66 liver tumor samples obtained from different parts of tumor resected from nine patients, researchers found a wide range of intra-tumoural genetic diversity in the samples across patients.
Researchers also found how cancer evolved from the original cancer cell into cancer cells with diverse genomic makeup.
This suggests that treatment needs to be customized and more targeted to each patient, an idea called precision medicine for drugs to be effective.
"The deeper understanding of liver cancer gained from our study provides a solid foundation for future therapeutic strategies,"said co-lead author Zhai Weiwei, Senior Research Scientist of Human Genetics at GIS.
Joint-lead author and GIS Human Genetics Group Leader Roger Foo added that, "Our approach reveals that liver cancer may contain many more genetic mutations, targetable by drugs that are already available."
"We hope to build on our study to devise ever more means of precision therapy for liver cancer," he added.
Pierce Chow, the liver surgeon leading the NCCS team in this research project said no subsequent adjuvant systemic therapy is currently available for patients with liver cancer after surgical resection.
"The data from this study will potentially enable treatment to be individualized to the genomic and immunological make-up of each patient which can help both early and late stage patients with liver cancer," Chow added.