Molecular and Immunological Characterization of Biliary Tract Cancers: A Paradigm Shift Towards a Personalized Medicine

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Abstract

Biliary tract cancers (BTCs) are a group of rare cancers that account for up to 3-5% of cancer patients worldwide. BTCs include cholangiocarcinoma (CCA), gallbladder cancer (GBC), and ampulla of Vater cancer (AVC). They are frequently diagnosed at an advanced stage when the disease is often found disseminated. A late diagnosis highly compromises surgery, the only potentially curative option. Current treatment regimens include a combination of chemotherapeutic drugs gemcitabine with cisplatin that have a limited efficiency since more than 50% of patients relapse in the first year. More recently, an inhibitor of fibroblast growth factor receptor 2 (FGFR2) was approved as a second-line treatment, based on the promising results from the NCT02924376 clinical trial. However, novel secondary treatment options are urgently needed. Recent molecular characterization of CCA and GBC highlighted the molecular heterogeneity, etiology, and epidemiology in BTC development and lead to the classification of the extrahepatic CCA into four types: metabolic, proliferating, mesenchymal, and immune type. Differences in the immune infiltration and tumor microenvironment (TME) have been described as well, showing that only a small subset of BTCs could be classified as an immune "hot" and targeted with the immunotherapeutic drugs. This recent evidence has opened a way to new clinical trials for BTCs, and new drug approvals are highly expected by the medical community.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCancers
Volume12
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 6 2020

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