Vancouver-based biomedical firm comes up with breakthrough in the fight against liver cancer

Tekmira, a Vancouver biopharmaceutical company, has published research results in the journal Cancer Research, that may help doctors fight liver cancer — one of the least survival cancers of them all.

The research, done in collaboration with the American National Cancer Institute (NCI), targets a gene called COP1 that is over-expressed in liver cancer cells. By “silencing” COP1, a tumour-suppressing protein p53 is restored, which leads to an inhibition in cancer cell proliferation and cancer cells are further programmed to die.

The silencing of COP1 was carried out with a development Tekmira and the NCI called “lipid nanoparticle technology” that saw a 12-fold decrease in liver cancer cell growth in tumour-bearing mice.

Mark J. Murray, CEO and President of Tekmira, feels that this discovery could lead to new advances in fighting liver cancer.

“This work is an illustration of one approach Tekmira is taking to identify targets of therapeutic interest which could lead to the development of product candidates,” he said. “We are very encouraged by the results of this study and look forward to advancing this work with our collaborators at the NCI.”

Liver cancer patients only have a 30–40 per cent survival rate presently. Liver cancer is the third most deadly cancer, taking 600,000 lives annually.