Personalized treatment for hepatocellular carcinoma in the era of targeted medicine and bioengineering
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a major global health burden, causing approximately 8.3 million deaths each year, and it is the third leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide, with a relative 5-year survival rate of around 18%. Due to the advanced stage of diagnosis in most patients, systemic treatment based on targeted therapy has become the only feasible option. Genomic studies have established a profile of molecular alterations in hepatocellular carcinoma with potentially actionable mutations, but these mutations have yet to be translated into clinical practice. The first targeted drug approved for systemic treatment of patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma was Sorafenib, which was a milestone. Subsequent clinical trials have identified multiple tyrosine kinase inhibitors, such as Lenvatinib, Cabozantinib, and Regorafenib, for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma, with survival benefits for the patient. Ongoing systemic therapy studies and trials include various immune-based combination therapies, with some early results showing promise and potential for new therapy plans. Systemic therapy for hepatocellular carcinoma is complicated by the significant heterogeneity of the disease and its propensity for developing drug resistance. Therefore, it is essential to choose a better, individualized treatment plan to benefit patients. Preclinical models capable of preserving in vivo tumor characteristics are urgently needed to circumvent heterogeneity and overcome drug resistance. In this review, we summarize current approaches to targeted therapy for HCC patients and the establishment of several patient-derived preclinical models of hepatocellular carcinoma. We also discuss the challenges and opportunities of targeted therapy for hepatocellular carcinoma and how to achieve personalized treatment with the continuous development of targeted therapies and bioengineering technologies.