Liver cancer is a significant cause of illness and early death, especially in developing countries where there is difficulty accessing diagnostic technology. The second most fatal type of cancer worldwide is hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the main form of primary liver cancer. In the coming decades, it is likely that this disease will cause a major challenge in global public health.
Incidence of HCC is closely associated with prevalence of the hepatitis B (HBV) and C (HCV) viruses. Clinically, HCC patients have a very poor prognosis and high 5-year mortality rate, except when detected early. Detecting HCC early is critical in order to prevent the development of tumours.
Affordable and accurate diagnostic tools are urgently needed to diagnose liver cancer earlier in developing countries.
The COCLICAN project brings together a collaborative network of researchers and clinicians in three continents: Europe, South America and Asia. With field sites in Peru and Laos, where liver cancer is an emergent threat to the health of the population, this international team will analyse and compare metabolomic profiles of a consistent cohort of HBV-HBC infected patients to delineate molecules which are predictive of the emergence of liver cancer. They will also assess the performance of a low-cost and open-source echo-stethoscope connected to a smartphone which has been adapted for use in low-income countries.
Researchers will travel between the three continents in order to undertake research and test diagnostic tools, and to share skills and learn from international colleagues. A project funded by the European Union, COCLICAN has been designed to enhance research collaborations, to improve innovation potential at the European and global levels and to respond to the health needs of underserved populations.