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Indexed/Abstracted in: CAB, EMBASE, PubMed/MEDLINE, Scopus, Emerging Sources Citation Index
Online ISSN 1827-1642
Dufour J.-F. 1,2
1 Hepatology Department of Clinical Research , University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland;
2 University Clinic of Visceral Surgery and Medicine, Inselspital, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
Hepatocellular carcinoma is an insidious disease that grows without eliciting pain. In the absence of surveillance, the diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma is usually made at a late stage, which excludes curative treatments and leaves patients with few therapeutic options. For years, conventional chemotherapy was administered but yielded poor results. This is not surprising since hepatocytes are well equipped to survive exposure to chemotherapeutics. Hepatocytes posses an extensive repertoire of enzymes and pumps capable of degrading and exporting these drugs. Bypassing hepatocytic tumor cells in favour of supportive cells represents an alternative treatment target that has achieved modest success. The supportive cells in the hepatic vasculature comprise endothelial cells and pericytes. Thanks to a concerted effort from fundamental and pharmacological researchers, several drugs targeted to the vasculature are reaching the clinic. This manuscript reviews the rationale for targeting the vascular cells to treat hepatocellular carcinoma, the signalling pathways underlying angiogenesis and the most promising drugs.