Area 3

Hepatic oncology

Team leader

Strategic objectives

It is a multidisciplinary team, known internationally as “Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer (BCLC) group”, which develops an intense clinical and translational research in liver cancer. The aim of the team is to investigate the efficacy of clinical and therapeutic interventions as well as the mechanisms regulating the disease progression.

Main lines of research

At clinical level, work is done in the definition of new diagnostic tools and, with a view to evaluating treatment efficacy, the optimum criteria for indicating radical treatment are refined (surgical resection, transplantation, percutaneous approach with ablation) – with the aim of ensuring maximum efficacy in terms of both survival and associated morbidity. In the treatment setting, evaluations are made of the options for improving the efficacy of non-curative therapies which have been shown to improve survival (arterial chemical embolization, sorafenib). In this sense, phase 1, 2 and 3 studies are carried out and led at international level together with the Biomedical Industry, with a view to determining the efficacy of new molecular agents. At the same time, evaluations are being made of the efficacy of antiangiogenic treatment to prevent relapse after surgical treatment or ablation. Likewise, cancer prevention studies are being conducted in patients with liver cirrhosis. In relation to translational research, studies are being made of the pathogenesis of hepatocellular carcinoma, together with the analysis of new signaling pathways and genomic aberrations implicated in the development of the tumor, as well as the identification of novel therapeutic targets. An international genomic research consortium has been created in hepatocellular carcinoma, in collaboration with the Mount Sinai Medical School, Harvard University and the Instituto di Tumori in Milan, which has consolidated a tissue bank of paramount importance.

Research Group

Translational research in hepatic oncology

Josep M. Llovet


The group was created in the year 2006 with the purpose of conducting genomic studies in hepatocellular carcinoma and of identifying therapeutic targets and new molecular treatments. We have established two lines of research in the context of an international consortium (HCC Genomic Project), organized by Dr. Llovet, and involving the participation of the BCLCClínic-IDIBAPS, the Mount Sinai School of Medicine (NY), the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Broad Institute (Boston), and the National Tumor Institute (Milan):

  1. Genomics. Identification of the genomic alterations in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC) and clarification of their implications in relation to diagnosis and treatment. Integral analysis of the transcriptome (oligonucleotide microarrays) and of the genomic aberrations (SNP arrays). Identification of markers for the early diagnosis of HCC.
  2. Signaling pathways and molecular therapies. Identification of the role of the signal transduction pathways in the pathogenesis of HCC, and identification of new therapeutic targets and new molecular treatments. We are currently studying the signaling pathways corresponding to Akt/ mTOR, EGFRRas-MAPK, IGF and Wnt, in human samples, cell lines and experimental animals.

Research Group

Hepatocelular signaling and cancer

Albert Morales


Our research is focused on identifying cellular targets with therapeutic potential in liver cancer and the development of prognostic markers of antitumor efficacy for the treatment of the hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In particular, our ongoing research projects are centered in:

1. Mitochondrial-directed and lipid-based therapies that may improve current HCC management, and help to overcome sorafenib resistance.

2. Protein and RNA signatures that categorize potential candidates for each specific treatment.

3. Experimental therapies to block the development of liver metastasis in syngeneic tumor models.