Molecularly targeted therapies for hepatocellular carcinoma: Sorafenib as a stepping stone

Hwi Young Kim, Joong Won Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Since sorafenib, a multikinase inhibitor targeting angiogenesis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), demonstrated survival benefits in recent clinical trials, it has changed the treatment paradigm and become the standard first-line treatment for patients with advanced HCC. However, disease stabilization with sorafenib lasts a few months, possibly due to the development of resistance, and thus the survival advantage was modest, even in patients with preserved liver function. Furthermore, there is currently no biomarker for monitoring the response or resistance to sorafenib. Currently, various kinds of molecularly targeted agents have been developed and are being evaluated in clinical trials. There are several steps required to improve the outcome from sorafenib therapy. First, a reliable predictive and prognostic biomarker is urgently needed. Second, a compelling indication of sorafenib treatment for HCC needs more clinical studies and consensus. Third, the actual benefits of sorafenib to patients with advanced liver dysfunction should be clarified and a more effective strategy for targeted therapy needs to be developed, for example, using a combination of targeted agents acting on different pathways or different levels of a key pathway. Finally, sorafenib could be used with other treatment modalities, such as local ablation or transarterial chemoembolization, to synergize efficacy. Based on the successful introduction of sorafenib, future studies should focus on plans to further improve the outcome of HCC patients by overcoming resistance and maximizing the efficacy of molecularly targeted therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)303-309
Number of pages7
JournalDigestive Diseases
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2011


  • Biomarker
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Molecularly targeted therapy
  • Sorafenib
  • Survival


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