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Immunotherapy could help tackle tough liver cancer


Significant new data presented today at the International Liver Congress™ 2014 indicate that liver cancer (Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC)) may be treated by adoptive T-cell therapy.

This new therapeutic approach in the treatment of HCC could be very important as without treatment the 5 year survival rate is just 5%. Globally, HCC accounts for 746,000 deaths, and in the UK alone is responsible for over 4,000 deaths per year.

Glypican-3 (GPC3) is a tumour associated antigen expressed in up to 70% of HCC but not in healthy human tissue. Isolating GPC3-specific T-cell receptors and expressing them on patient's T-cells can help treat HCC, as these T cells can recognise and eliminate GPC3-postive HCC.

The study detected and expanded MHC-multimer-positive CD8+ T-cells specific for targeted GPC3 epitopes and grew T-cell clones. From these clones, the most specific and active T-cell receptor was isolated. When this T-cell receptor was expressed on donor T cells it conferred specificity for GPC3, the HCC-associated antigen. Thus, it enables HLA-A2+ patient's T cells to specifically kill GPC3+ HCC.

Systemic treatments for advanced stage HCC are constantly evolving and current approaches include drug treatment with sorafenib - yet the current standard of care still does not offer a strong enough prognosis for patients. Liver transplant is an option for only 10 -15% of HCC carriers diagnosed at an early stage and therefore the importance of other treatment options for patients is critical. This is a treatment gap that adoptive T-cell therapy could potentially fill.

Disclaimer: the data referenced in this alert is based on the submitted abstract. More recent data may be presented at the International Liver Congress™ 2014.


Notes to Editors

About EASL

EASL is the leading European scientific society involved in promoting research and education in hepatology. EASL attracts the foremost hepatology experts and has an impressive track record in promoting research in liver disease, supporting wider education and promoting changes in European liver policy.

EASL's main focus on education and research is delivered through numerous events and initiatives, including:

  • The International Liver CongressTM which is the main scientific and professional event in hepatology worldwide
  • Meetings including Monothematic and Special conferences, Post Graduate courses and other endorsed meetings that take place throughout the year
  • Clinical and Basic Schools of Hepatology, a series of events covering different aspects in the field of Hepatology
  • Journal of Hepatology published monthly
  • Organisation of a Mentorship program and Masterclass to support young investigators starting out on their career path
  • Participation in a number of policy initiatives at European level

About The International Liver CongressTM 2014

The International Liver Congress™ 2014, the 49th annual meeting of the European Association for the study of the Liver, is being held at ExCel London from April 9 – 13, 2014. The congress annually attracts in excess of 9000 clinicians and scientists from around the world and provides an opportunity to hear the latest research, perspectives and treatments of liver disease from principal experts in the field.

For further information on the studies, or to request an interview, please do not hesitate to contact the EASL Press Office on:

Helena Symeou +44 7976 562 430
Courtney Lock +44 7894 386 422

1. C.Dargel et al. T-CELL RE-DIRECTION AGAINST GLYPICAN-3 FOR IMMUNOTHERAPY OF HCC. Abstract presented at the International Liver CongressTM 2014

2. Ferlay J, Soerjomataram I, Ervik M, Dikshit R, Eser S, Mathers C, Rebelo M, Parkin DM, Forman D, Bray, F.GLOBOCAN 2012 v1.0, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide: IARC CancerBase No. 11 [Internet].Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2013. Available from: Accessed 11.03.14

3. Liver Cancer Mortality Statistics Accessed 11.03.14

4. Statistics and Outlook for Liver Cancer Accessed 11.03.14

Courtney Lock | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Cancer EASL HCC Hepatology T-cell clones liver receptor responsible treatments

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