Liver cancer

Liver cancers include primary tumours derived from liver cells, and metastases from other cancers to the liver. Primary liver cancers can be further divided into hepatocellular carcinomas (HCC), derived from hepatocytes, and cholangiocarcinomas, derived from bile duct epithelial cells. Liver metastases are more common than primary liver cancers. Although primary liver cancers and liver metastasis are obviously very different diseases, in both cases liver involvement compromises the prognosis. An aggressive therapeutic approach to treat liver tumours is therefore mandatory even when, for liver metastasis, the primary tumour cannot be removed, or when there are other secondary tumours that are not life-threatening in the short term. HCC are diagnosed in half a million people worldwide each year, including approximately 5000 new cases in France. During the past 20 years, HCC incidence in occidental countries has tripled while the 5-year survival rate has remained below 12%. Major risk factors for HCC include infection by hepatitis B or C viruses, alcoholic liver disease, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).


BRIO liver cancer research program, managed by J. Rosenbaum (INSERM/Bordeaux University), focuses primarily on HCC but some aspects of liver metastasis are also investigated.  This program is shared across multiple institutions in Bordeaux:

BRIO main objectives are:

  • To characterize new mechanisms of hepatocarcinogenesis and potential therapeutic targets
  • To improve the efficiency of sorafenib, the only drug currently approved for HCC treatment, by better characterizing the determinants of the response, monitoring serum concentration, and understanding its mechanism of action
  • To perform clinical trials and investigate innovative therapies in the lab
  • To better characterize the subgroup of HCC arising on non-fibrotic liver (nfHCC) through an integrated epidemiological and biological study
  • To measure medical practices and to improve knowledge of factors associated with liver cancer
  • To push the limits of the loco-regional treatment of liver tumours