The Collagen Gel Droplet–embedded Culture Drug Sensitivity Test in Relapsed Hepatoblastoma

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There are few treatment options for patients with unresectable or refractory hepatoblastoma which has failed to respond to the standard treatment. The rarity of the disease and lack of experimental materials have hampered the development of new treatments. In this study, the collagen gel droplet–embedded culture drug sensitivity test was used to evaluate the effectiveness of the multikinase inhibitors sorafenib and sunitinib, and other drugs, in relapsed hepatoblastoma tumor tissues. Tumor samples from 6 patients with relapsed hepatoblastoma were tested for drug sensitivity by the collagen gel droplet–embedded culture drug sensitivity test; evaluable results were obtained from 5 of them. All samples were judged to be sensitive to sorafenib with a 50% growth inhibitory concentration (IC50) of 0.5 to 3.1 μg/mL. Sunitinib did not achieve IC50 in 2 of 3 samples within the tested concentration range based on clinically observed serum concentrations. In the drug combination assay using a hepatoblastoma cell line, sorafenib showed synergistic effects with SN-38, an active metabolite of irinotecan. Our results provide the basic science background warranting future clinical trials of a combination of sorafenib and irinotecan for relapsed or refractory hepatoblastoma.

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