Aligarh: An Indian Scientist, Dr. Hifzur R Siddique, Department of Zoology, with Prof Keigo Machida of University of Southern California, LA and other collaborators discovered that the Central Regulatory Pathway of Liver Cancer is caused by alcohol and hepatitis infection. It could serve as a potential therapeutic target for the drug design and give a direction to the management strategy for this deadly disease. Their study recently appeared in the prestigious journal, Nature Communications 11 (2020). The finding evokes hope for the possible treatment of this lethal disease. Liver is considered as the powerhouse of our body and due to the change in life style, chronic alcohol consumption, Hepatitis virus infection, the liver cancer incidence is increasing day by day, however, exactly how these normal liver cells become cancerous is only partially understood. This discovery ushers in lead to the hope for the scientific community to manage the havoc of liver cancer in the present time.
Dr Siddique’s present research discovered the molecular mechanisms of a cancer causing protein, TBC1D15. They discovered that cancer cells and cancer stem cells accumulated TBC1D15. TBC1D15 promotes cancer in two ways. First, TBC1D15 interferes normal asymmetric cell division, an essential process for normal stem cells division to maintain our tissue by interacting with NuMA1 and disrupts the NuMA1-LBNassociation.
Dr Hifzur has been working on these cells for a decade and established a dedicated lab to initiate pioneer research on Cancer Stem Cells at AMU. He elaborated through his paper that alcohol consumption and hepatitis infection leads to Liver Cancer formation through stem cell factor and generation of Cancer Stem Cells. Cancer Stem Cells are rare cells found in the tumour which are responsible for cancer initiation recurrence, invasion and metastasis. Thus, these cells were considered as ‘root cause’ of almost all cancer. At initial stage of therapy, the cancer cells are killed either by chemotherapeutic drugs or radiation. However, a few cells survive and they form tumour and cancer reappear after a gap some time interval.
Dr Hifzur informed that annually, more than half million new cases of liver cancer patients are diagnosed and on 5-year survival rate is only 10-20% till today against 91% for breast cancer. Liver Cancer is largely traced in developing or under developed countries where 80-83% of patients are found.
In 2014, his work on therapy-resistant cancer was selected as one of the three ‘Featured Prostate Cancer Research’ work by USA Department of Defense’s ‘2014 Research Highlights’ section- a rare achievement by any scientist. Dr. Siddique also regularly publishs popular articles or appeared in mass media on different subjects to popularize the sciences.