Rare Disease Report

John Gordan of UCSF Discusses His Work in Fibrolamellar Carcinoma

NOVEMBER 13, 2017
John Gordan, MD, PhD
John Gordan, MD, PhD, is a gastrointestinal oncologist with a specialty in hepatobiliary cancers like cholangiocarcinoma, hepatocellular carcinoma and fibrolamellar carcinoma at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF).

At the Fibrolamellar Cancer Foundation (FCF) Summit earlier this month, Rare Disease Report caught up with Dr Gordan to discuss his experience in the space, why this rare disease might not be so uncommon to him, and what he’s been seeing with his most recent research. Hear more from him in the videos below.

Gordan: Part of it comes out of my medical specialization; I treat patients with liver cancer, and FCF is a liver cancer. The specific impetus is that we opened both of the multi-site fibrolamellar cancer trials at UCSF, and so I became involved through caring for patients on those studies. I would say that those highlighted, for me, how much better we should be doing for patients with fibrolamellar liver cancer.

I would say that my experience is different from that of most positions in that I actually have treated a substantial number of patients with fibrolamellar liver cancer. For me, the challenge is not lack of familiarity – because of the studies, we’ve actually had quite a few patients come to UCSF for treatment. It’s actually just the profound limitations of treatment options that we have, as well as the limited knowledge about which agents work, which agents don’t work, and, in particular, which of the new agents in development might be relevant for fibrolamellar.

Gordan: Well, I’ve been doing FCF research for the past year. I’ve been supported by the Foundation, which has been extremely valuable to my research group, and I also treat patients with fibrolamellar cancer.

The presentation that I gave is more from some laboratory-based work that I’ve been doing. It’s a collaboration with Dr. (Nabeel) El-Bardeesy at MGH (Massachusetts General Hospital) and what we’ve been trying to do is jumpstart therapeutic development for patients with fibrolamellar by actually stepping outside of the disease and looking at how the primary oncogenic feature of fibrolamellar, which is the presence of the DNHAP1-PKA fusion might be reflected in other tumors, which are also driven by PKA signaling. In a number different genetic models and cancers from a broad range of different tissue types, we have discovered dependency on protein kinase A and are starting to map what are the essential downstream mediators in the hopes that we can actually take these back to fibrolamellar as new therapeutic targets.


For more from the Fibrolamellar Cancer Foundation, visit the organization’s website: fibrofoundation.org.

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