Critical analysis of the potential of targeting GPC3 in hepatocellular carcinoma
Kazuya Ofuji, Keigo Saito, Toshiaki Yoshikawa, Tetsuya Nakatsura
Division of Cancer Immunotherapy, Exploratory Oncology Research and Clinical Trial Center, National Cancer Center, Kashiwa, Japan
Abstract: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. The treatment options for patients with advanced HCC are limited, and novel treatment strategies are required urgently. Glypican-3 (GPC3), a member of the glypican family of heparan sulfate proteoglycans, is overexpressed in 72%-81% of HCC cases, and is correlated with a poor prognosis. GPC3 regulates both stimulatory and inhibitory signals, and plays a key role in regulating cancer cell growth. GPC3 is released into the serum, and so might be a useful diagnostic marker for HCC. GPC3 is also used as an immunotherapeutic target in HCC. A Phase I study of a humanized anti-GPC3 monoclonal antibody, GC33, revealed a good safety profile and potential antitumor activity, and a Phase II trial is currently ongoing. In addition, the authors' investigator-initiated Phase I study of a GPC3-derived peptide vaccine showed good safety and tolerability, and demonstrated that the GPC3 peptide-specific cytotoxic T-lymphocyte frequency in peripheral blood correlated with overall survival in HCC patients. A sponsor-initiated Phase I clinical trial of a three-peptide cocktail vaccine, which includes a GPC3-derived peptide, is also underway. GPC3 is currently recognized as a promising therapeutic target and diagnostic marker for HCC. This review introduces the recent progress in GPC3 research, from biology to clinical impact.
Keywords: GPC3, hepatocellular carcinoma, immunotherapy
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