The role of IL6 in liver cancer linked to metabolic liver disease

Liver cancer is highly fatal, it has very few treatment options, and it is one of the few cancers whose incidence is rising worldwide. One poorly understood risk factor for liver cancer is obesity/metabolic disease (such as diabetes and fatty liver disease). Since these conditions are reaching epidemic proportions in many countries, the prevalence of liver cancer is expected to continue to rise.

In order to find innovative ways to treat liver cancer, this project aims to identify proteins and cell pathways that influence liver tumour development and growth, specifically in obesity. The team will investigate whether a new signaling pathway for interleukin 6 (IL6) controls liver tumour development in mice that have been made obese by diets high in sugar and fat, and in obese patients with liver cancer. IL6 is a hormone that circulates in the blood, and thus has the potential to be both a new biomarker of liver cancer and a new therapeutic target to treat the disease.

The project is led in Canada by the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal with the collaboration of the Hadassah Medical Centre (Israel), and the Dokuz Eylul University (Turkey). It was selected for funding through the third research competition of the Joint Canada-Israel Health Research Program, a partnership between IDRC, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Israel Science Foundation, and the Azrieli Foundation.

Project ID


Project status



36 months

IDRC Officer

Fabiano Santos

Total funding

CA$ 670,000


Canada-Israel Health Research Program

Project Leader

Jennifer Estall


Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal

Institution Country


Institution Website