• A Viral Exposure Signature Defines Early Onset of Hepatocellular Carcinoma

      Liu, J.; Tang, W.; Guarnera, M. (Cell Press, 2020)
      Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is an aggressive malignancy with its global incidence and mortality rate continuing to rise, although early detection and surveillance are suboptimal. We performed serological profiling of the viral infection history in 899 individuals from an NCI-UMD case-control study using a synthetic human virome, VirScan. We developed a viral exposure signature and validated the results in a longitudinal cohort with 173 at-risk patients who had long-term follow-up for HCC development. Our viral exposure signature significantly associated with HCC status among at-risk individuals in the validation cohort (area under the curve: 0.91 [95% CI 0.87–0.96] at baseline and 0.98 [95% CI 0.97–1] at diagnosis). The signature identified cancer patients prior to a clinical diagnosis and was superior to alpha-fetoprotein. In summary, we established a viral exposure signature that can predict HCC among at-risk patients prior to a clinical diagnosis, which may be useful in HCC surveillance.