Identification of New Players in Hepatocarcinogenesis: Limits and Opportunities of Using Tissue Microarray (TMA)
Received: 19 February 2014 / Accepted: 21 March 2014 / Published: 15 April 2014
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Liver tumours are among the leading causes of cancer-related death worldwide and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) accounts for the vast majority of liver tumours. When detected at an early stage of disease, patients might still be eligible for surgical-based curative treatments. However, currently
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Liver tumours are among the leading causes of cancer-related death worldwide and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) accounts for the vast majority of liver tumours. When detected at an early stage of disease, patients might still be eligible for surgical-based curative treatments. However, currently only small portion of HCC affected patients are diagnosed at an early stage. For late stage HCC no treatment option exists beside the multi-tyrosine kinase inhibitor Sorafenib. Thus new molecular targets and treatment options for HCC are urgently needed. Nevertheless, despite some improvements in diagnosis and patient management, the biology of liver tumour remains inadequately understood, mainly because these tumours have shown to harbour a highly complex genomic landscape. In addition, one major obstacle delaying the identification of new molecular targets in biomedical research is the necessity to validate them using a large collection of tissue specimens. Tissue microarray (TMA) technology allows the prompt molecular profiling of multiple tissue specimens and is therefore ideal to analyze presumptive candidate biomarkers in a fast an effective manner. The use of TMA has substantial benefits over standard techniques and represents a significant advancement in molecular pathology. For example, TMA technology reduces laboratory work, offers a high level of experimental uniformity and provides a judicious use of precious tissue. On the other hand, one potential limitation of using TMA is that the small cores sampled may not be representative of whole tumors. This issue is very critical in particularly heterogeneous cancers such as HCC. For liver focused studies, it is ideal to evaluate the staining patters of a determined marker over the structure of an entire acinus and to define staining in as many as possible anatomical regions. In this review we analyze the limits and opportunities offered by the usage of TMA technology in HCC research. In summary, TMA has revolutionized the histopathological analysis and will be of great help to further advance the knowledge in the field of hepatocarcinogenesis research.