Researchers Study Parasite-Induced Bile Duct Cancer In Rural Thailand

Researchers will recruit and study Thais at risk of a liver fluke-induced bile duct cancer to develop proteomic biomarkers that predict the at-risk population.

AsianScientist (Jun. 19, 2011) – Researchers from Thailand and the U.S. will recruit and study Thais at risk of a liver fluke-induced bile duct cancer to develop proteomic biomarkers that predict the at-risk population.

The liver fluke, Opisthorchis viverrini, is a food-borne parasite that currently infects more than 40 million people, mainly in the Southeast Asian countries of Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia.

In these countries, uncooked fish are a staple diet, which act as intermediate hosts for O. viverrini. The parasite is considered among the most important of the food-borne trematodes due to its strong association with bile duct fibrosis and bile duct cancer.

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) categorizes this parasitic worm as a Group 1 carcinogen – a definitive cause of cancer.

To fight this cancer, researchers from the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences have been awarded a five-year, $500,000-per-year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The project will be spearheaded by Prof. Jeffrey M. Bethony and Prof. Paul J. Brindley from George Washington University. They will collaborate with Dr. Banchob Sripa of Khon Kaen University, Thailand, and Drs. Jason Mulvenna and Alexander Loukas of James Cook University, Australia.

Potential biomarkers will first be identified from an analysis of tumor tissue. Next, the biomarkers will be verified in the plasma of healthy individuals at risk of bile duct cancer from O. viverrini infection who are enrolled in the Khon Kaen Cholangiocarcinoma Cohort study established by the US researchers.

The cohort recruits residents in O. viverrini endemic areas along the Chi River basin in Northeastern Thailand, the global epicenter of bile duct cancer, and is currently following over 1,000 individuals identified to be at high risk of developing the disease.

O. viverrini induced bile duct cancer provides a unique model of human carcinogenesis, with the major risk factor and many of the intermediate stages on the pathway to cancer already well-defined,” Bethony said. “This enables us to track the presence of biomarkers from the initiation of cancer risk to culmination in bile duct cancer.”

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Source: George Washington University Medical Center.
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