Live cancer is one of the most aggressive cancers worldwide and its incidence is high in the Asian and African countries due to hepatitis infection and aflatoxin contamination of foodstuffs. The cancer is also becoming prevalent in the United States. Researchers in the US and China have been studying gene activity in liver tumors using the new 'gene chip' technology and found a way of detecting tumors that spread. They found that there is a difference between those tumors that spread and those which do not. They found that a protein called osteopontin produced by a particular gene is necessary for spreading. They found that cancer cells grown in the lab were more likely to spread, as a result of high levels of osteopontin. They also found that blocking this protein prevents cancer cells from spreading, both in mice and in the laboratory. Osteopontin can be used as a diagnostic marker, as it is found in all body fluids and, drugs that block the protein may help contain liver tumors that spread.