Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Liver Delivery

Role of BNIP3 gene in controlling fat metabolism in liver cancer

03 December 2022

Liver Delivery

Worldwide, obesity has tripled since 1975, creating a global health crisis. Being obese increases our risk of 13 different cancers, including the most common liver cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). If you have HCC, being obese increases your risk of dying by up to four times. Understanding how obesity triggers this cancer is key to identifying at-risk people and finding new treatments. Here, we see a liver (red) from a mouse missing the BNIP3 gene. When scientists treated mice with a chemical that causes HCC, tumours (white) grew faster and bigger in those lacking BNIP3. Researchers also showed that people with HCC and low BNIP3 activity have fattier livers and worse survival rates. This gene slows the growth of HCC by delivering fat stores in the liver to our cellular disposal machinery. Finding ways to switch BNIP3 back on in HCC could be a new strategy to treat the disease.

Written by Henry Stennett

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