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. 2018 Sep 21;24(35):3974-3979.
doi: 10.3748/wjg.v24.i35.3974.

Biomarkers for Hepatocellular Carcinoma: What's New on the Horizon?

Free PMC article

Biomarkers for Hepatocellular Carcinoma: What's New on the Horizon?

Matthias Ocker. World J Gastroenterol. .
Free PMC article


Treatment of advanced hepatocellular carcinoma remains unsatisfying and so far only prognostic biomarkers like α-fetoprotein have been established. No clear predictive biomarker is currently available for standard of care therapies, including targeted therapies like sorafenib. Novel therapeutic options like immune checkpoint inhibitors may pose new challenges to identification and validation of such markers. Currently, PD-L1 expression via immunohistochemistry and tumor mutational burden via next-generation sequencing are explored as predictive biomarkers for these novel treatments. Limited tissue availability due to lack of biopsies still restricts the use of tissue based approaches. Novel methods exploring circulating or cell free nucleic acids (DNA, RNA or miRNA-containing exosomes) could provide a new opportunity to establish predictive biomarkers. Epigenetic profiling and next-generation sequencing approaches from liquid biopsies are under development. Sample size, etiologic and geographical background need to be carefully addressed in such studies to achieve meaningful results that could be translated into clinical practice. Proteomics, metabolomics and molecular imaging are further emerging technologies.

Keywords: Biomarker; Circulating free DNA; Circulating tumor cells; Functional imaging; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Immune checkpoint inhibitors; Liquid Biopsy; Molecular imaging; Next-generation sequencing.

Conflict of interest statement

Conflict-of-interest statement: The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.

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