MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and The University of the Philippines (UP) Manila are in the process of developing a study to come up with an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven detection system for the early diagnosis of liver cancer among Filipinos with chronic hepatitis B.
“Early CANcer Detection in the LivEr of Filipinos with Chronic Hepatitis B Using AI-Driven Integration of Clinical and Genomic Biomarkers” or CANDLE Study aims to provide a clinically-useful and uniform scoring system for liver cancer diagnosis, which will enable clinicians to decide on how often diagnostic tests should be done, maximizing the use of the limited funds of patients while maintaining good clinical practice.
Through the efforts of partner hospitals across the country, the project’s target of recruiting 800 patients for the study is nearing completion.
According to DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña , an effective and comprehensive way to study liver cancer is through a multi-omics approach, which is also a reliable tool to diagnose a patient’s prognosis.
“Multi-omics approaches are novel frameworks that integrate multiple omics datasets generated from the same patients to better understand the molecular and clinical features of cancers, which could lead to the discovery of clinically relevant biomarkers that can either be used for early diagnosis, prediction of treatment response. This could also determine the possible course of the disease, or serve as novel targets for therapies,” he said.
He also said that: “This is actually the first of three omics programs and is now in its final year of implementation. This is actively establishing a clinical and genomic profile of the Filipino population for early detection of liver cancer.”
The whole-genome genotyping of patient samples will commence at the Philippine Genome Center, while phenotypic evaluation, such as biomarker assay and ultrasound imaging, is ongoing, the DOST Secretary said.
Since liver cancer is linked to the acquisition of the hepatitis B virus, De la Peña pointed out that vaccination is one option for primary prevention of the disease.
“This, however, does not apply to patients who already have the disease. It is then important to do secondary prevention or screening that can detect different cancer stages, hence appropriate medical intervention can be provided,” he said.
“Recognizing that cancer remains a national health priority in the Philippines with significant implications worldwide and that cancer is the third leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the country, the DOST, through the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) is continuously investing on cancer research,” according to the DOST chief.