Source Department of Surgical Oncology and Gastroenterological Surgery, Sapporo Medical University School of Medicine, S-1, W-16, Chuo-Ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido 060-8543, Japan.
The prognosis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is affected by tumoral factors and liver functions; therefore it is often difficult to select the appropriate therapeutic methods for HCC. Recently, two global phase III trials showed that sorafenib, which is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor, improved the prognosis of patients with advanced HCC. As a new therapeutic strategy for HCC, sorafenib is expected to expand the indication for HCC in the future. However, it alone is insufficient for the molecular-targeted treatment of HCC because the signaling pathway exists not only in cancer cells but also in normal cells. Recently, cancer stem cells (CSCs) have attracted attention as a novel therapeutic target for HCC. There is now much evidence that stem cell properties such as self-renewal, unlimited proliferation, and differentiation are highly relevant to cancer recurrence and the drug resistance of HCC. In this review, we describe the molecular pathogenesis and the current state and future development of molecular- and CSC-therapeutic targeted agents for HCC, citing various reports.