Abstract: Sorafenib is still the only systemic drug approved for the treatment of advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In recent years, several investigational agents mainly targeting angiogenesis failed in late-phase clinical development due to either toxicity or lack of benefit. Recently, data of the RESORCE trial, a placebo-controlled Phase III study that evaluated the efficacy and safety of regorafenib in patients with HCC and documented disease progression after systemic first-line treatment with sorafenib, were presented at the ESMO World Congress on Gastrointestinal Cancer, 2016. Regorafenib treatment resulted in a 2.8-month survival benefit compared to placebo (10.6 months vs 7.8 months). Side effects were consistent with the known profile of regorafenib. The approval of regorafenib for this indication is expected in 2017. Further candidate agents in Phase III evaluation for second-line treatment of patients with HCC are the MET inhibitors tivantinib and cabozantinib, the vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2 antibody ramucirumab, and the programmed death receptor-1 (PD-1) blocking antibody pembrolizumab. Furthermore, results from two first-line trials with either the tyrosine kinase inhibitor lenvatinib or the PD-1 antibody nivolumabin in comparison to sorafenib are awaited in the near future and might further change the treatment sequence of advanced HCC.


Keywords: hepatocellular carcinoma, receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor, sorafenib, regorafenib, lenvatinib, tivantinib, cabozantinib, ramucirumab, immunotherapy, anti-CTLA-4, anti-PD-1, oncolytic virus