Targeted Therapy for Hepatocellular Carcinoma: What`s New?

Haluk Yuzugullu* and Ozge Gursoy-Yuzugullu

Targeted Therapy for Hepatocellular Carcinoma: What`s New?

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), one of the most frequent neoplasms worldwide,
causes more than 700,000 deaths per year, and is the third cause of cancer-related mortality.

HCC occurs after years of damage to hepatocytes with inflammatory conditions due to Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) or Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) infection resulting in chronic hepatitis and/or cirrhosis.

The disease incidence is decreasing due to Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) vaccination,
whereas rates are steadily increasing in Europe and United States possibly due to increased
obesity and Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) infection.

The latest antiviral drug, Sofosbuvir, has achieved notable success in clinical trials and approved against HCV and gives great hopes for treatment and hopefully preventing HCV induced liver cancer.

Unfortunately, other risk factors like alcohol abuse, fungal toxins, obesity, and poor diet are also associated
with HCC and will not be easily wiped out anytime soon.

If diagnosed early, HCC can be cured with surgery or liver transplant. However, most
HCC cases can only be diagnosed at advanced stages, and are accompanied with chronic liver
disease such as hepatitis and fatty liver disease.

Sorafenib, the only approved multi-kinase inhibitor, is the current first line therapy for the advanced HCC and can only lead to survival benefit of 2-3 months. Sorafenib inhibits the growth of blood vessel formation and the cancer
cells by targeting key kinases like RAF-1, B-RAF, VEGFR and PDGFR.

Since the approval of Sorafenib, drug companies have spent tremendous effort for testing variety of molecular therapies targeting angiogenesis to oncogenic signaling pathways many of which still under clinical evaluation.

Liver Res Open J. 2015; 1(1): e1-e3. doi: 10.17140/LROJ-1-e001