Cutting Edge Liver Cancer Research

The Sir Owen Glenn (SOG) Liver Research Group

In cancer research, there has been a ‘microbiome revolution’ where microbiome information is now being harnessed to develop preventative strategies, and to enhance therapeutic responses. Through cutting edge research and access to human and animal samples, the Sir Owen Glenn (SOG) Liver Research Group is unravelling the role of the microbiome in liver cancer development, particularly in the context of non alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This highly competitive research is being undertaken at the UNSW Sydney Microbiome Research Centre (MRC) at St George Hospital, overseen by A/Prof Amany Zekry, a Hepatologist Clinical Academic at UNSW and Prof Emad El-Omar, Professor of Medicine at UNSW, Director and founder of MRC.

The SOG Liver Research Group includes experienced clinicians and scientists; Dr Nadia Amorim, Dr Jason Behary, Dr Miriam Jackson, Dr Salim Maher and Mr Joshua Seet-Lee, who bring expertise in microbiome, liver disease, immunology, metabolism and bioinformatics. Their aim is to unravel gut instigated immune/metabolic events in NAFLD, and NAFLD related liver cancer. The results will inform preventative and therapeutic strategies targeting the gut composition, that are safe and efficacious in clinical practice and ultimately improving patient outcomes.

The SOG Liver Research Group have presented their work, on both the national and international stage, including at the International Liver Cancer Association (ILCA) conference, held in Chicago and the Experimental Liver Cancer Workshop, held in Brisbane last year. Their work has been recognised by research awards presented by the SSMRF at the St George and Sutherland Hospital Medical Research Symposium. Their findings have generated three manuscripts that have been submitted to peer reviewed journals for publication.

This exciting research program has been made possible through the very generous major gift to SSMRF by Sir Owen Glenn. Sir Owen’s generosity will enable the Group to make significant contributions to understanding the role of the microbiome, and its metabolites in driving liver cancer in Australia.

The SOG Liver Research Group was established in 2018, and comprises a team of clinicians, senior scientists, postgraduate and undergraduate students with sharp minds, determined to find answers to improve health outcomes in patients suffering from HCC.

Dr Nadia Amorim, a Dietitian and Senior Scientist, with a PhD in cancer biology is leading a cutting-edge research project that uses animal models to understand the interaction between diabetes, diet, and the This exciting research program has been made possible through the very generous major gift to SSMRF by Sir Owen Glenn. Sir Owen’s generosity will enable the Group to make significant contributions to understanding the role of the microbiome, and its metabolites in driving liver cancer in Australia. microbiome as drivers of HCC. This work is supported by Dr Miriam Jackson, a scientist with a PhD in inflammation and nutritional immunometabolism, and UNSW Honours student Mr Joshua Seet-Lee.

Dr Jason Behary is a Hepatologist at St George Hospital, and a PhD candidate at the MRC. He brings his clinical acumen to research, leading a project to better understand the interaction between the microbiome and peripheral immune responses in HCC. The competitive edge of this project has been made possible by forging national and international collaborations to access clinical samples and harnessing infrastructure at the MRC, including world-class bioinformatics.

Dr Salim Maher is a clinician and the most recent member of the SOG Liver Research Group. He is leading a clinical project to understand the impact of dietary interventions on the microbiome and associated inflammatory response in patients with NAFLD liver cirrhosis, at risk of HCC development.