Novel therapies for hepatocellular carcinoma

Project Details

Liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma or HCC) ranked the seventh most common cancer worldwide and is the second leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. It is characterized with low detection rate for the curable stages, ineffective therapeutic options and high rate of relapse. Current ineffective therapeutic options warrant new research to develop novel therapies to treat this condition. Thus, there is an urgent need for research to improve our ability to diagnose, prevent, and treat this disease.

Our work will be expected to establish novel ways to target liver cancer cells without producing the toxic, off-target effects that are common to currently used chemotherapeutic drugs. We will use several pre-clinical and in vitro models of HCC to test the effects of a non-pathogenic adeno-associated viral (AAV) vector carrying proteins or peptides with anti-cancer properties or novel nano-particles called ‘Carbon-Dots’ (CDs) conjugated to those peptides.



  • Prof Qin Li, Griffith University, Queensland, Australia
  • Prof Keerthisiri Guruge, National Institute of Animal Health, Tsukuba, Japan


  • National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia
  • Austin Medical Research Foundation (AMRF)

Research Opportunities

This research project is available to PhD students, Masters by Research, Honours students to join as part of their thesis.
Please contact the Research Group Leader to discuss your options.

Research Outcomes

These studies will establish human liver-specific ACE2 and peptide therapies has powerful anti-cancer effects in animal models of HCC. Moreover, these studies are expected to show that carbon-dot technology can be successfully used to target cancer cells without producing off-target effects, markedly contrasting current chemotherapeutics which produce many off-target effects. More importantly, the studies provide evidence that it could be translated into clinical practice.

Research Publications

  • Rajapaksha IG, Gunarathne LS, Asadi K, Cunningham SC, Sharland A, Alexander IE, Angus PW, Herath CB. (2019). Liver-targeted angiotensin converting enzyme 2 inhibits chronic biliary fibrosis in multiple drug-resistant gene-2knockout mice. Hepatology Communications Oct 10;3(12):1656-1673.
  • Yeung LW, Guruge KS, Taniyasu S, Yamashita N, Angus PW, Herath CB. (2013). Profiles of perfluoroalkyl substances in the liver and serum of patients with liver cancer and cirrhosis in Australia. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety 96:139-46.

Research Group

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

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