Current biologics for treatment of biliary tract cancers

J Gastrointest Oncol. 2017 Jun;8(3):430-440. doi: 10.21037/jgo.2017.05.04.


Biliary tract cancers (BTC) is a group of malignancies that arise from the epithelial cells of the biliary tree. These cancers are typically classified by anatomic site of origin: intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (IHCC) and extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (EHCC), and gallbladder cancer (GBC). To date, complete surgical resection remains the mainstay of treatment especially for earlier stage disease. Unfortunately, most patients present with advanced or metastatic disease, when systemic chemotherapy is the only treatment option. Due to the paucity of effective treatments, BTCs have a dismal prognosis. There is a tremendous need to better understand the disease biology, discover new therapies, and improve clinical outcomes for this challenging disease. Next-generation sequencing has produced a more accurate and detailed picture of the molecular signatures in BTCs. The three BTC histologic subtypes are, in fact, quite molecularly distinct. IHCC commonly contain FGFR2 fusions and IDH 1 and 2 mutations, whereas EHCC and GBC tend to carry mutations in EGFR, HER2, and MAPK pathway. In light of this emerging knowledge, clinical trials have become more biomarker-driven, which allows capturing of subsets of patients that are most likely to respond to certain therapies. Many new and promising targeted therapeutics are currently in the pipeline. Here we review the genetic landscape of BTCs while focusing on new molecular targets and targeted therapeutics currently being investigated in biomarker-driven clinical trials.

Keywords: Biliary tract cancer (BTC); biologics; cholangiocarcinoma; gallbladder cancer (GBC).

Publication types

  • Review