Hepatocellular carcinoma is a common cancer in Asia with a poor prognosis. Tumour encapsulation has been shown to be a good, independent prognostic factor. The main cell in the liver responsible for extracellular matrix formation is the hepatic stallate cell, and this was investigated as the cell type responsible for encapsulation. This lecture discusses the role of hepatic stellate cells in hepatocellular carcinoma, in particular with tumour encapsulation as a host defence mechanism. The study involved four phases: (1) comparing encapsulated tumours with non-encapsulated tumours, (2) comparing with metastatic tumours to the liver, (3) creation of an animal model, and (4) investigating known cytokines with hepatic stellate cell stimulating activity. The results showed that the hepatic stellate cells were responsible for tumour encapsulation and that this was impaired in non-encapsulated tumours and in metastatic tumours. A successful animal model was created which allowed further work. However, the known cytokines that normally stimulate hepatic stellate cells were not shown to be involved in tumour encapsulation, suggesting that an unknown factor may be involved.
It is indeed a great honour for me to be named the third Yahya Cohen lecturer and I would like to express my deepest thanks and appreciation to the Academy of Medicine Singapore for having selected me for this award. At this lecture, I would like to share with you my work over the last three years, on the myofibroblast-like cell and its association with hepatocellular carcinoma or HCC as it is more commonly known.
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