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J Hematol Oncol. 2011 Jul 5;4:30. doi: 10.1186/1756-8722-4-30.

Targeting insulin-like growth factor axis in hepatocellular carcinoma.

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  • 1Division of Hematology and Medical Oncology, NYU Cancer Institute, NYU School of Medicine, New York, NY 10016, USA.


The insulin-like growth factor (IGF) axis contains ligands, receptors, substrates, and ligand binding proteins. The essential role of IGF axis in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has been illustrated in HCC cell lines and in animal xenograft models. Preclinical evidence provides ample indication that all four components of IGF axis are crucial in the carcinogenic and metastatic potential of HCC. Several strategies targeting this system including monoclonal antibodies against the IGF 1 receptor (IGF-1R) and small molecule inhibitors of the tyrosine kinase function of IGF-1R are under active investigation. This review describes the most up-to-date understanding of this complex axis in HCC, and provides relevant information on clinical trials targeting the IGF axis in HCC with a focus on anti-IGF-1R approach. IGF axis is increasingly recognized as one of the most relevant pathways in HCC and agents targeting this axis can potentially play an important role in the treatment of HCC.

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