An unbiased screen for novel clinical and molecular biomarkers of the progression of primary sclerosing cholangitis to biliary tract cancer

Awarded to University of Edinburgh

Miss Rachel Guest, Department of Surgery, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh

The total grant awarded is £7,000

Duration of award: 18 July 2016 to 17 June 2017 

Award details"An unbiased screen for novel clinical and molecular biomarkers of the progression of primary sclerosing cholangitis to biliary tract cancer."


Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is a pre-malignant condition: the lifetime risk of developing biliary tract cancer (BTC) is approximately 10%.  The exclusion of malignancy in a chronically inflamed biliary tree with multilevel benign stricturing is highly challenging, yet critical for patients eligible for transplantation.  Despite high levels of clinical suspicion and in depth pre-operative assessment, patients with occult malignancy still proceed to transplantation and clinical outcomes in this context are catastrophic. Our team at the Scottish Liver Transplant Unit (STLU) based at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh has developed a unique database and tissue bank (through the NHS Lothian NRS Bioresource) of all patients with PSC who have been assessed for liver transplantation in Scotland over the last 25 years, with prospectively collected data on patient demographics and outcomes/survival, linked to histological material; either explanted livers or biopsies.  In this study we hope to make use of this resource with the aim of evaluating the clinical and molecular factors which offer potential to act as predictors or biomarkers of BTC in PSC patients.