The Molecular Hepatology Lab focuses on a couple of main areas of research related to chronic inflammation in cancer and noncoding RNA. Our lab has also been investigating extracellular vesicles and their role in liver function, cancer growth and response to treatment.

Inflammation and cancer

One research focus area of our lab is understanding the mechanisms by which chronic inflammation promotes carcinogenesis of the biliary tract. Dr. Patel and his team are studying the cellular processes by which inflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin-6, can foster tumor formation and growth in the liver by altering gene expression or modulating cell responses that enable malignant transformation.

Dr. Patel's research group has made several important observations about cytokine-dependent signaling mechanisms and gene expression involved in tumorigenesis. Ongoing efforts are focused on evaluating therapeutic strategies that target these mechanisms.

Noncoding RNA

We're also studying the fundamental mechanisms that modulate how genes involved in tumor behavior are expressed. In particular, our lab is investigating the role of noncoding RNA, such as microRNA and long noncoding RNA, in these processes.

Areas of ongoing research include the role of specific noncoding RNA in the pathogenesis and behavior of liver and biliary tract cancers and the relationship of these RNA genes to cell signaling processes involved in tumor cell behavior.

Dr. Patel's laboratory, which previously identified and cloned novel long noncoding RNA genes involved in liver cancers, was the first to identify a role for microRNAs in the regulation of cholangiocarcinoma growth and response to chemotherapy. We're evaluating how these discoveries might be used to improve the treatment of these cancers.