The Mayo Clinic Hepatobiliary SPORE is working to improve liver cancer outcomes. Tackling an urgent need in cancer research

Research advances in the Hepatobiliary SPORE can change the trajectory of liver cancer and bile duct cancer, offering optimism for both adults and children facing a sometimes grim prognosis.

Overview

As the only SPORE of its kind in the United States, the Mayo Clinic Hepatobiliary SPORE is devoted to improving the diagnosis and treatment of liver cancer and bile duct cancer.

New treatment options for hepatobiliary cancers are urgently needed. Five-year survival rates are low, and the death rate is on the rise.

Research in the Hepatobiliary SPORE is driving new discoveries that are providing important insights about the biology of hepatocellular carcinomas. Investigators are working on new diagnostic tests, screening treatment compounds, launching new clinical trials, identifying biomarkers and harnessing the power of oncolytic viruses to attack cancer. Research advances in the SPORE can change the trajectory of liver cancer and bile duct cancer, offering optimism for patients facing a sometimes grim prognosis.

The Mayo Clinic Hepatobiliary SPORE builds on significant contributions our investigators have already made to research on liver cancer and bile duct cancer.

These research advances include:

  • Providing the first description of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, a serious form of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and an increasingly important cause of chronic liver disease and liver cancer
  • Developing the current state-of-the-art treatment for select patients with early-stage perihilar cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer), which involves a combination of preoperative chemotherapy, external beam radiation and internal radiation therapy, followed by staging laparoscopy and liver transplantation
  • Creating the model for end-stage liver disease (MELD) score, which is used worldwide for assessing the severity of liver dysfunction and estimating patient prognosis and survival
  • Developing, validating and implementing the fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) technique for the diagnosis of malignancy in patients with pancreatic and biliary strictures, and deploying a new targeted multicolor FISH panel specifically designed for the diagnosis of pancreatobiliary malignancy

Research focus

Researchers in the Mayo Clinic Hepatobiliary SPORE investigate three types of hepatobiliary cancer through four translational research projects that focus on cutting-edge approaches to early detection and treatment:

The SPORE has three cores that offer vital research support services.

In addition, programs within the SPORE provide funding and career development to investigators, helping ensure a strong foundation for future growth and innovation in liver cancer and bile duct cancer research.

The Hepatobiliary SPORE is part of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Program, which is a formal research program within the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center.

Funding

The Hepatobiliary SPORE is funded by the National Cancer Institute, which awarded Mayo Clinic a five-year, $11.5 million grant in October 2018. A SPORE, or Specialized Program of Research Excellence, is the cornerstone of the NCI's efforts to promote collaborative, interdisciplinary translational cancer research.

Principal investigators

The principal investigators for the Mayo Clinic Hepatobiliary SPORE are: