Rockefeller professor receives grant to research on rare liver cancer

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Head of the Laboratory of Cellular Biophysics at Rockefeller University Sanford Simon, PhD, has received a $600,000 grant by the Fibrolamellar Cancer Foundation (FCF) to develop a therapy for fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma. The disease is most common in adolescents and young adults who typically have no history of liver disease.

"Dr. Simon's research over the past four years has made a critical difference in uncovering promising discoveries in fibrolamellar," said John Hopper, FCF Executive Director in a statement. "The foundation's $1.7 million investment to date, supporting Rockefeller's efforts, is the largest of any kind behind this cancer. This attests to our hope and belief that curative therapies are possible with both great research institutions and great investigators focused on it."

The most recent grant will go toward funding work to identify compounds to treat fibrolamellar by halting the cancer-causing activity that results from a mutation the lab discovered in 2014.

"It can be difficult for rare diseases like fibrolamellar, especially those in children, to receive attention and resources," said Simon in a statement. "Yet, these are important to study. Young kids have the potential of many decades of life ahead of them. In addition, studies of these rare pediatric cancers have provided critical lessons for all cancers. From studying the rare pediatric cancer retinoblastoma, researchers learned about a large class of molecules called tumor suppressors. Fibrolamellar in particular is caused by single mutations, which means there is great potential for designing and testing diagnostics and cures. The support of the Fibrolamellar Cancer Foundation was essential for us to identify the driver for this cancer and will allow us to continue this important work."