Tumor-host interactions in liver cancerof childhood and adults

THRIVE is an EU-founded initiative that brings together a strong and multidisciplinary team with 13 partners, from 8 countries, with complementary expertise in liver cancer research and in the use of cutting-edge technologies

Our main focus is to enhance the outcome of paediatric and adult liver cancer patients by:

Advancing the
of the disease

for current therapies

to overcome resistance

Why are we studying liver cancer?


new cases per year worldwide


leading cause of cancer-related mortality


Europeans diagnosed in 2020


Europeans died from liver cancer in 2020

Understanding Hepatocellular Carcinoma 

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common type of liver cancer in adults, accounting for around 90% of cases. Hepatocellular carcinoma is a difficult-to-cure cancer, with a low curation rate and with poor outcome. 

About the half of all hepatocellular carcinoma patients will be treated with systemic therapies, either because they are diagnosed at advanced stages of the disease or because they progress after surgical or loco-regional therapies. 

Currently, immune-based therapies stand as the standard treatment for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma at advanced stages. Despite the demonstrated improved of patient outcomes following immune therapies, a high percentage of cases do not respond to the treatment.

Key challenges in hepatocellular carcinoma research today include:

  • A better understanding of the factors associated with risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma, particularly in patients with metabolic-associated fatty liver disease (MAFLD),
  • Identifying why current treatments may not always be effective,
  • Developing tools that can predict how hepatocellular carcinoma patients will respond to treatment.

Addressing Liver Cancer in Children

In children, hepatoblastoma (HB) is the predominant form of liver cancer, occurring at a rate of around 2 cases per million children annually. 

The standard treatment for children with hepatoblastoma involves surgical intervention followed by chemotherapy. While the majority of patients respond positively to this treatment, half of them may experience severe long-term side effects. In addition, this regimen does not achieve cure in about 30% of cases.

All this underscores the need for the identification of predictors or response to treatment, as well as novel treatments in the field of hepatoblastoma.

Created with BioRender.com

Created with BioRender.com

Project Aims

The overall aim of the THRIVE project is to improve the outcome of both paediatric and adult liver cancer patients by understanding at-risk populations, tumour-host molecular interactions, developing biomarkers for current therapies and identify novel and affordable and societally-accepted treatments to overcome resistance.

Furthermore, we also aim to enhance the societal impact of our research, to promote FAIRness and Open Science, and to make health policy makers as well as healthcare professionals aware of the THRIVE results.

These THRIVE objectives will be tackled by the following specific aims:

Aim #1

To understand the causative processes and key determinants of liver cancer development

Aim #2

To decipher the molecular and cellular tumour–host interactions by:

  1. understanding the immune and stroma cell population interactions.
  2. exploring the intra-tumoral microbiome component

Aim #3

To develop reliable tools predicting response to immune therapies by:

  1. developing molecular biomarkers
  2. generating an AI-tool for guidance in decision making

Aim #4

To propose innovative, socially acceptable, and affordable new treatment

Aim #5

To integrate our discoveries with other EU resources and initiatives.

Aim #6

To impact health policy makers and healthcare professionals.

Work Packages

THRIVE is organised in 11 complementary and inter-related Work Packages (WP)

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