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Oncology. 2007;72 Suppl 1:30-44. Epub 2007 Dec 13.

From molecular biology to targeted therapies for hepatocellular carcinoma: the future is now.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Centre for Cancer Research, the University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, SAR, China.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is characterized as a highly chemoresistant cancer with no effective systemic therapy. Despite surgical or locoregional therapies, prognosis remains poor because of high tumor recurrence or tumor progression, and currently there are no well-established effective adjuvant therapies. The molecular biology of carcinogenesis and tumor progression of HCC has been increasingly understood with intense research in recent years. Several important intracellular signaling pathways such as the Ras/Raf/Mek/Erk pathway and PI3k/Akt/mTOR pathway have been recognized, and the role of several growth factors and angiogenic factors such as EGF and VEGF has been confirmed. Effective agents targeting these molecular abnormalities have been developed and widely tested in preclinical studies of HCC cell lines or xenograft models. Several agents have entered clinical trials in HCC patients, and recent data indicated that a multikinase inhibitor targeting Ras kinase and VEGFR-2, sorafenib, is effective in prolonging survival of patients with advanced HCC. The management of advanced HCC is entering the era of molecular targeting therapy, which is of particular significance for HCC in view of the lack of existing effective systemic therapy for this cancer.

Copyright 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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