1 Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Medical Oncology, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, The James Comprehensive Cancer Center , Columbus , Ohio.
2 Department of Surgery, Division of Surgical Oncology, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, The James Comprehensive Cancer Center , Columbus , Ohio.
Introduction: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common primary liver cancer and the burden of disease is increasing globally. Until recently, systemic therapies for HCC were limited and prognosis for advanced disease generally poor. Area covered: This article describes some recent phase I and II clinical trials for the treatment of HCC. We performed a search on Pubmed with keywords hepatocellular carcinoma, phase I clinical trial, phase II clinical trial, and immunotherapy. We also searched https://clinicaltrials.gov and identified relevant trials listed as active. Studies in progress or recently reported were conducted using novel therapies based on targets identified through molecular profiling of tumors or based on insights into immune system dysregulation in HCC. We also identified studies using drugs targeting recently discovered biomarkers such as endoglin or aldo-keto reductase 1c3. The major outcomes were safety and efficacy as measured by response rate, progression-free survival or overall survival. Expert Opinion: HCC is a heterogeneous disease resulting from aberrations in intracellular signaling and immune system dysregulation. Thus, a multisystem approach will be required to deliver personalized therapy. Combination therapies are likely to be future options; it is also possible that modulation of the microbiome might form part of future treatment paradigms.