Oncofetal molecules as biomarkers and drug targets for hepatic cancer

Felix H. Shek, Tracy C.W. Lai, Sarwat FATIMA, Nikki P. Lee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a major type of liver cancer prevalent in Asia and Africa, with a global increase in numbers in western countries. Despite decades of efforts in improving management of this malignancy, prognosis of patients still remains suboptimal. Frontline surgical treatments and traditional diagnostic methods suffer from own limitations. To alleviate this clinical dismal, research for alternated and supplemental methods are imperative. Different studies have discovered a panel of molecules related to tumorigenesis. Among them, a class of oncofetal molecules, characterized by their abundance in fetal livers and HCC but not in adult healthy livers, seems to serve as biomarkers and therapeutic targets for HCC. Tumorigenesis and embryogenesis share common characteristics and undergo similar processes in terms of proliferation, division, plasticity, motility, and convergence of mechanistic pathways. This chapter reviews several oncofetal molecules of livers including alpha-fetoprotein (AFP), glypican-3(GPC3), insulin-like growth factor II mRNA binding protein 3(IMP3), survivin, Golgi protein 73(GP73), cadherin-17(CDH17), and granulin-epithelin precursor (GEP) for their diagnostic and prognostic values. In addition, how these molecules can be used for developing therapies for HCC is also discussed. Most of the mentioned oncofetal molecules are found associating with poor disease conditions, while some of them have been studied for their potential capability in treating tumors in preclinical animal models. In summary, oncofetal molecules belong to an emerging class of candidates with potential application in improving current methods of diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of HCC.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNew Advances on Disease Biomarkers and Molecular Targets in Biomedicine
PublisherHumana Press Inc.
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781627034562
ISBN (Print)1627034552, 9781627034555
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2013

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • AFP
  • Antibody therapy
  • Biomarker
  • CDH17
  • Diagnosis
  • GEP
  • GP73
  • GPC3
  • Hepatic cancer
  • Immunotherapy
  • IMP3
  • Oncofetal molecules
  • Prognosis
  • Sensitivity
  • Specificity
  • Therapeutic target
  • Treatment


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