London: Researchers have discovered a protein that prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver.
The anti-cancer protein, called LHPP, can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer, said the study published in the journal Nature.
The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is usually diagnosed at a very late stage when the liver is already severely damaged and hence overall prognosis is poor.
The researchers believe that detection of the anti-cancer protein LHPP as a biomarker may allow clinicians to provide better treatment options.
"It is striking that LHPP is present in healthy tissue and completely absent in tumour tissue," said first author Sravanth Hindupur from University of Basel in Switzerland.
In the study conducted in a mouse model for hepatocellular carcinoma, the researchers analysed a total of more than 4,000 proteins, comparing them in healthy and tumour tissue.
The research showed that LHPP emerged as the top favourite.
Re-introduction of the genetic information for LHPP by the researchers was found to prevent the formation of tumours and maintain liver function.
"Similar to the mouse model, we also saw a striking decrease in LHPP levels in tumours of patients with liver cancer," Hindupur said.