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Epigenetic Modifications Regulating Hepatocellular Carcinoma and Hepatocyte Differentiation

C36HEP
  • Project Leaders: Pamela Hoodless
  • Institutions: University of British Columbia (UBC)
  • Budget: $1,200,000
  • Competition: Canadian Epigenetics, Environment and Health Research Consortium (CEEHRC) Network
  • Genome Centre(s): Genome BC
  • Fiscal Year: 2013
  • Status: Active

There are over 100 types of liver disease and left untreated, these diseases can develop into liver cirrhosis and potentially into hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Thousands of Canadians die each year from liver cirrhosis causing liver failure. Currently the only treatment for liver failure is a transplant. However, treatment is hindered by a shortage of donor tissue. Thus, viable alternatives to donor liver transplant are required. Many researchers are trying to develop methods to make hepatocytes. Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) are differentiated into hepatocytes by mimicking the step-wise signals that are used to make hepatocytes in embryos. Amazingly, HCC exhibits gene expression patterns that are similar to an embryonic hepatocyte suggesting that development of HCC is related to a reversal of differentiation. This project will explore the similarities and differences between HCC and hepatocytes generated from hPSCs and they are particularly interested in factors that regulate DNA packaging and, thus, are able to regulate the expression of genes.