WASHINGTON (Sep. 5, 2018) – Liver fluke infection is a major public health problem affecting more than 10 million people in Southeast Asia, particularly in Thailand and Laos. Infection has been strongly linked to cholangiocarcinoma, or bile duct cancer, an uncommon but aggressive form of cancer.
This particular cancer is caused by the chronic infection with a parasitic worm acquired by consuming uncooked or undercooked freshwater fish. The population in Thailand impacted by the infection, routinely prepares and consumes undercooked fish caught by locals to lower costs.
A team led by Paul Brindley, PhD, professor of microbiology, immunology, and tropical medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, has received more than $1.7 million from the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health to investigate the cellular and molecular links between liver fluke infection and bile duct cancer.
“We are trying to figure out why this worm infection causes these liver cells to transform and become cancer,” said Brindley. “It’s an infection-related cancer and we’re intrigued by and motivated to resolve the basic cellular question of how could a worm induce human tissue in the liver to become malignant.”
Brindley also explained that
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