Scientists hope for liver cancer blood test development

In collaboration with the Press Association

Cancer Research UK scientists have married technology and biology to provide a potential test to detect early stage liver cancer.

The researchers, led by Professor Philip Johnson, used sophisticated protein measurements and computer analysis to build up a molecular "signature" characteristic of the disease.

Currently, liver cancer is the sixth most common cancer in the world, although it is relatively rare in the UK. High-risk groups such as people with cirrhosis of the liver and carriers of hepatitis B and C are regularly tested but current techniques are not sensitive enough to detect the disease early.

The discovery has the potential to save lives, as treatment is more effective if the cancer is caught at an early stage.

"We have shown that the right combination of technology and computer analysis can 'break the code' of liver cancer and distinguish people with early liver cancer from those without the disease," said Professor Johnson.

"However, this is only the first step on a long road towards a test that can be reliably used for the many people at risk of developing primary liver cancer.

"We want to improve the technology to make the test even more accurate," he added.