Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the leading causes of cancer death. In patients with advanced or unresectable HCC, there are few treatment options. Conventional chemotherapy has limited benefits. Sorafenib, a multi-kinase inhibitor, improves survival, but options for patients intolerant of or progressing on sorafenib are limited. There has been much interest in recent years in molecular therapeutic targets and drug development for HCC. One of the more promising molecular targets in HCC is the cellular-mesenchymal-epithelial transition (c-MET) factor receptor. Encouraging phase II data on two c-MET inhibitors, tivantinib and cabozantinib, has led to phase III trials. This review describes the c-MET/hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) signalling pathway and its relevance to HCC, and discusses the preclinical and clinical trial data for inhibitors of this pathway in HCC.
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