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Medtech Impact on Wellness

Assistant Professor at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Dr. Augusto Rodriguez, talks about the scope of his work and research on different aspects of liver oncology.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • Which underlying diseases are the main causes of liver cancer, and how long it generally takes for liver cancer to develop
  • How many therapies have been approved for use in patients with liver cancer, and why it has been challenging to determine which type of therapy will work best for a particular patient
  • What it means for a liver tumor to be heterogenous and why it’s significant

Dr. Rodriguez’s work centers around the goal of incorporating molecular information from tumors into tools that can be applied in the clinical setting to improve prognosis predictions, and developing novel methods for early detection of liver cancer.

The current gold standard for early detection of liver cancer is a combination of abdominal ultrasonography to look for evidence of small tumor formation, and blood tests to identify the levels of a certain protein known to be elevated in patients with liver cancer.

So, what’s wrong with the current gold standard? Dr. Rodriguez explains that in addition to operator error with regard to the ultrasound procedure, it requires patients to travel to an imaging center every six months, which is difficult to manage for many people. Due to the inconvenience and difficulty presented by compliance with the gold standard protocol, many people end up developing liver cancer that goes undetected for far too long.

A potential solution that Dr. Rodriguez has his eyes on is a technology called liquid biopsy.

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In essence, it entails an analysis of tumor components within the bloodstream, such as fragments of DNA from tumors or extracellular vesicles released from tumors. The detection of such components in a blood sample taken at the point of care can detect liver tumors when they are very small, leading to better overall prognosis.

In addition, liquid biopsy may address another complication in the area of liver cancer treatment, which is the determination of how best to sequence the many therapies that have become available in recent years.

Dr. Rodriguez discusses a number of fascinating topics. Tune in for all the details.

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