Jesper B Andersen receives NNF Hallas-Møller Ascending Investigator grant
For 15 years, Jesper B Andersen has investigated the molecular pathogenesis of liver and bile duct cancers.
Whereas, viral hepatitis is known to pose an increased risk for developing liver cancer for infected carriers, this risk differs in the patient population, and not all carriers develop disease. In fact, many patients, particularly with cancer in the bile ducts, are considered sporadic with unknown causes of disease. These patients are most often diagnosed in late stages where the cancer is very advanced. Through comprehensive genome characterizations, Jesper B Andersen’s research has contributed to many novel scientific discoveries facilitating patient stratification, diagnostic and prognostic biomarker development as well as new drug targets. Although this relatively rare disease has seen scientific and clinical breakthroughs in recent years it is uncertain why the incidence rate is rising worldwide. With the Hallas Møller Ascending Investigator grant, Jesper B Andersen can now launch a new research program, which may result in groundbreaking molecular understanding of the extrinsic risk factors that cause chronic inflammation and formation of cancer in the liver and bile ducts.
Research data shows that the development of cancer in the bile ducts is characterized by chronic inflammation and an extensive stromal tumor microenvironment, which contributes to the aggressive disease behavior and chemoresistance. Viral hepatitis is known to trigger inflammation of the liver and bile ducts, leading to chronic liver diseases, cirrhosis and ultimately to liver cancer. However, whereas most patients have concomitant chronic inflammation, the expected pathogenic risk factors, including viral hepatitis infections, are surprisingly limited and often not surveilled following hospitalization.
“This grant will allow my group to implement cutting-edge technologies and foster collaborations with national and international partners to determine the viral exposures in a patient’s life and using these unique molecular footprints as guides to define the trigger of chronic inflammation and cancer. The results of this program will dramatically advance our ability for early cancer detection and understanding of the pathobiology of bile duct cancer.”
Representing the voice of patients
Jesper B Andersen has for years been involved in various international research collaborations and patient advocacy groups. In 2015, Jesper co-founded The European Network for the Study of Cholangiocarcinoma, a network constituting research groups located in 13 European countries, and since 2018 he has been a founding member of The global Cholangiocarcinoma Alliance - a patient advocacy alliance that works to improve prevention, survival and the quality of life for CCA patients around the world.
“I think, patient information is particularly important in a rare disease such as bile duct cancer: the patient needs to know what this diagnosis means. Well, it is the patients right to know. For a disease with either no or limited approved treatments, the sequence of treatment choices can be very important either opening or closing the door for next clinical step. In bile duct cancer “mutation matters” since the current treatment options, besides standard chemotherapy, are biomarker-guided. Importantly, new clinical trials which potentially match your tumor may require a transfer to another hospital. You should even look abroad. If there is no advocacy for your disease, you have no political voice, and then, a rare disease is much less likely to receive the necessary funding to ensure basic and translational discoveries.”
Viral exposures dictate the inflammatory microenvironment in liver cancers