A comprehensive analysis of hepatocellular carcinoma (hepatocellular carcinoma, HCC), the most common type of liver cancer, revealed several genomic changes that may represent new therapeutic targets in this deadly cancer. The incidence of HCC has increased over the last 20 years and the survival rate of these severe patients is only about 15% on average 5 years later, meaning that 3 out of 20 patients will survive 5 years later.
Currently, only two drugs are approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the FDA, for the treatment of advanced HCC and to increase the number of potential therapeutic targets. The researchers identified genomic changes in 96 of these tumors that affect the development of HCC, including mutations in the TERT gene were identified in 44% of cases; TP53 identified in 31% of cases, a CTNAB-1 (β-catenin) mutation detected in 26% of cases and high expression of several genes associated with Immunohistochemistry, such as CTLA4, PD-1, and PD-L1 . Given the recent success of immunotherapy in several cancers, these treatments may also be effective in liver cancer.
Findings from this study by The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Research Network, led by David A. Wheeler, Ph.D., of Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, may help in future in clinical trials aimed at improving the prognosis of this fatal disease. The analysis was published in “Cell” on June 15, 2017.