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Biochem Pharmacol. 2010 Sep 1;80(5):550-60. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2010.03.034. Epub 2010 Apr 4.

Molecularly targeted therapy in hepatocellular carcinoma.

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  • Laboratory of Molecular Endocrinology, Division of Molecular and Cellular Research, National Cancer Centre, Level 6, Lab 1, 11 Hospital Drive, Singapore 169610, Singapore. cmrhth@nccs.com.sg


With an annual incidence of over 660,000 deaths, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the third leading cause of cancer death globally. This disease is often diagnosed at an advanced stage, when potentially curative therapies are not feasible. HCC is highly resistant to conventional systemic therapies and prognosis for advanced HCC patients remains poor. Given the clear need, clinical development of novel therapeutic agents in HCC has begun in earnest. Our recent knowledge of the molecular mechanisms responsible of tumor initiation and progression has identified several potential molecular targets in HCC. These targets are the receptor tyrosine kinase-activated pathways, which include the Raf/MEK/ERK, PI-3K/Akt/mTOR, and Jak/Stat. Sorafenib is the multikinase inhibitor that has shown modest survival benefits in advanced HCC in two randomized controlled trials, supporting the use of molecularly targeted therapies in treatment of HCC. A number of strategies including monoclonal antibodies and tyrosine kinase inhibitors such as erlotinib, sunitinib, vandetanib, cediranib, brivanib, foretinib, and dovitinib have been developed and tested in various phases of clinical trials. The successful development of these novel targeted agents in the future will be dependent on the selection of patient populations that are most likely to derive clinical benefit, optimization of the dose used and schedules, and investigation of combined therapies. This review describes evolving molecular targeted agents, their common adverse side effects, and its potential use in management of HCC.

Copyright 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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