Liver cancer is among the top four causes of cancer death. Historically, liver cancer is driven by HCV. Now, liver cancer is the fastest-growing cause of cancer death in the United States. This is due to the increase of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), affecting around 25% of the global population. Emerging evidence defines over-nutrition environment and circadian misalignment as risk factors for NAFLD and liver cancer. So far, there is no FDA-approved drug to target the progression of NAFLD to liver cancer. Therapeutic approaches for liver cancer are also limited. Therefore, it is important to understand the mechanisms behind NAFLD-related liver cancer and identify new therapeutic targets.
We reported that a lipid-lowering drug decreased liver fat more when given in the afternoon than when given in the morning. This work is an example of chrono-pharmacology, where giving drugs at specific times of the day can maximize efficacy. My recent work revealed eating time as a key pacemaker for rhythmic metabolic processes in the liver. We can find a potential preventive approach for metabolic disorders and cancer patients by exploring this relationship between the internal clock and eating time. Chrono-nutrition is adjusting diet schedules to maximize results for treatment. The future project will identify how circadian rhythm affects liver cancer cells. These studies aim to find new targets of circadian physiology and reveal insights into liver cancer prevention and treatment.