Findings were presented today at The International Liver CongressTM 2015 on a novel therapeutic candidate for a genomically defined subset of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients with an aberrant fibroblast growth factor receptor 4 (FGFR4) pathway. BLU-554, a small molecule inhibitor of FGFR4, has been identified as a potential treatment option for up to 30% of HCC patients. In preclinical studies, the investigational drug was shown to be potent and 'exquisitely selective' for FGFR4 compared to other kinases targeting the FGFR family.
Overexpression of fibroblast growth factor 19 (FGF19), the ligand for FGFR4, can promote liver tumour formation (as observed in genetically-engineered mice), a process that can be blocked by knocking out the FGFR4 gene. This suggests that FGFR4 inhibition might be an effective treatment strategy in HCC patients whose tumours have an active FGF19/FGFR4 signalling axis.