Cholangiocarcinoma is a cancer of the bile ducts that extends from the liver to the small intestine.
UNMC Researcher Dr. Justin Mott explains the major function of the bile ducts is to move bile from the liver and gallbladder to the small intestine, where the bile helps digest the fats in food.
Mott has a five-year, $1.7 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to study the disease.
His team is trying to determine why bile, which is normally toxic to other cells, seems to increase the tumor’s ability to grow and survive.
Mott says there are less than a dozen labs with a major focus on this cancer.
“Pancreatic cancer is commonly thought of as the most aggressive type of cancer that patients get, and that’s true. Cholangiocarcinoma is similarly aggressive and patients have the same challenges.”
Mott says his team is studying ways they can defeat the tumor’s defense mechanisms in order to allow the body to clear the cancer cells.
"There is some hope. We have the opportunities for vaccine preventable cancer within the liver so hepatitis B vaccine is very effective. We have treatment options for hepatitis C and so these offer some hope for preventive measures.”
Mott says cholangiocarcinoma is the fastest growing cancer in Nebraska as well as the United States.
For his research, Mott recently received the Chancellor Emeritus Harold M. Maurer, M.D. and Beverly Maurer Scientific Achievement Award.